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Welcome to Create, Explore, and Discover at Home! This week's post is all about inventors and inventions! There are so many things we use in our daily life that would not be available if someone had not used their creativity, curiosity, intelligence, and skill to find a way to solve a problem or fill a need. I hope your family will enjoy exploring some of these resources, activities, and ideas together. Some of the books listed below include read-aloud videos. Though access to school and public libraries may be limited or unavailable at the moment, you may be able to access some of the other books in ebook platforms that may be available to you. Thank you so much for visiting. We'll add another group of resources soon! 

Featured Inventions

Like many inventions, Whoosh! is the story of how NASA engineer Lonnie Johnson accidentally invented what would become the very popular Super Soaker water gun. Lonnie loved solving problems and inventing things even as a child, and that love continues today.

Have you ever ridden a Ferris wheel at an amusement park or fair? This book tells the story of how civil engineer George Ferris overcame many challenges to create a massive wheel ride more than 120 years ago for the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.

In the late 1960s, Margaret Hamilton led a group of software engineers from MIT who coded important software for the Apollo program at NASA. In fact, Hamilton was the one who came up with the term software engineer! Her team's sophisticated code at a time when computers and coding were very different than now helped the lunar module's computer overcome a problem that might have kept the Apollo 11 astronauts from landing and walking on the moon. Her amazing story is celebrated in this book and even in a LEGO set! Check out the following links from the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum to learn more. 

https://airandspace.si.edu/stories/editorial/real-stories-legos-women-nasa

https://airandspace.si.edu/stories/editorial/women-nasa-lego-prototype-joins-collection

Just like the Super Soaker and many other inventions, the potato chip came about by accident. The book and video above tell the story of how a dissatisfied customer at a restaurant finally made the chef, George Crum, angry and the dish he intended to use to prove a point actually became hugely popular! See more about this and a related invention at https://invention.si.edu/potato-chip-inventions.

Balloons Over Broadway is the story of how the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade came to be and how an inventive puppeteer came up with a way many years ago to engineer the huge balloons that float above the crowds. After enjoying the read-aloud, visit the author’s website to download an activity guide with cute puppets you can make yourself (click ACTIVITY KIT in the “For Educators” section). Also check out the interactive Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade website to explore present-day balloons and much more!
For even more fun, make your own puppets out of everyday items along with Muppets creator Jim Henson.

While William Kamkwamba did not, of course, invent the windmill, he did figure out how to build one (by reading library books!) out of scrap metal to help his family and village during a horrible drought. Listen to his amazing story on the TED Talk above.   

This book tells the story of how--and why--Edwin Binney invented the Crayola crayon over 100 years ago. The video shows the Crayola factory today. For a fun activity at home, check out some of the free coloring pages offered on the Crayola website.

This book tells the story of another accidental invention! Richard James was working on an assignment for his engineering job with the US Navy when he discovered something surprising when a spring fell from a shelf. He took it home to his family, and his son was able to make it walk down the staircase. The family decided to turn this idea into a toy, and the rest is history. For more information about this invention, click the picture to visit the Wonderopolis Slinky article. There’s also an interesting video from the publisher’s website that shows how the author and illustrator of the book created the unique illustration style he chose to use.  

MORE BOOKS!

How the Cookie Crumbled: The True (and Not-So-True) Stories of the Invention of the Chocolate Chip Cookie by Gilbert Ford

The Hole Story of the Doughnut by Pat Miller

The Boy Who Invented the Popsicle by Anne Renaud and Milan Pavlovic

Have You Thanked An Inventor Today by Patrice McLaurin and Dian Wang

Explore More

Click the links below to explore additional invention activity ideas and resources. We've also gathered some fun ideas on Pinterest. 

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If you would prefer to share these resources with your students via Google Slides, please CLICK THE ARROW ABOVE TO DOWNLOAD the Slides version. You will need to be logged in to your Google account, because the link will prompt you to make a copy of the presentation. 

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