FACTS ON FILE: SCIENCE ONLINE - A comprehensive, curriculum-oriented overview of a broad range of scientific disciplines, with extensive definitions, essays, diagrams, biographies, and experiments, as well as links and suggested searches to related topics. If you're using SCIENCE ONLINE on your home computer, you'll have to enter your name, library card barcode, and PIN to begin.
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Ancient Inventions - Photos and descriptions of basic inventions from medieval times and earlier centuries, such as woven cloth, catapult, pottery, compass, stained glass, candles, and many others. (1998, Smith College)
Case Files - Learn about the life and work of dozens of important inventors and innovators, spanning the fields of Computing, Transportation, Cosmic Inquiry, Energy, and Communications. For high school and advanced middle school students. (Franklin Institute)
Einstein's Legacy - Explains how x-rays, microwave ovens, lasers, tv screens, and related inventions work. Middle school and up. (University of Colorado)
Engines of Our Ingenuity - 'The story of technological progress is one of drama and intrigue, sudden insight and plain hard work.' This radio series offers short episodes that 'explore technology's spectacular failures and many magnificent success stories.' Transcripts are included. Use the search box to search for a specific invention or innovation; to browse all the episodes, go to the 'Full Titles of Episodes, with Keywords.' You can get recent episodes by subscribing to the podcast. High school and up. (1988 - present, University of Houston)
Everyday Mysteries - Q & A about science and inventions such as GPS, boomerangs, frozen foods, automobiles, and more. Arranged by subject. Middle school and up (2010, Library of Congress). See more on the South Plainfield Public Library's Science page.
ExpoMuseum - Since the nineteenth century, World's Fairs have been a showcase for diverse cultures, scientific advancements, and new inventions. This site offers hundreds of links on the history of World's Fairs, from London's Great Exhibition of 1851 to Spain's Expo 2008, as well as information about upcoming fairs. Expect some broken links. (By Urso Chappell; site includes advertisements)
Greatest Engineering Achievements of the 20th Century - Lists the twenty inventions which had the greatest impact on the twentieth century, with a timeline and articles about the history of each. Middle school and up. (2003, National Academy of Engineering)
Greatest Inventors and Inventions - Biographies of a dozen great inventors, plus a timeline, quiz, games, links, and bibliography. Created by elementary school students, for elementary school students. (1999, Thinkquest Library)
Greatest Inventions - Includes an invention timeline, lists of inventions and inventors, guides, and interactive pages. (2000, Thinkquest Library)
History of Invention [Archived site; may be slow to load and navigate] - A timeline of invention from the wheel to the DVD. Click on any invention for more information; use the upper frame's scroll bar to read the full description. For all ages. (2008, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation)
History of Technology - In-depth history of technology in the Middle Ages, in Islamic Spain, and in China. High school and up. (2001 - 2005, Dr. Patricia Backer, San Jose State University)
How Everyday Things Are Made - 'If you've ever wondered how things are made - products like candy, cars, airplanes, or bottles - or if you've been interested in manufacturing processes, like forging, casting, or injection molding, then you've come to the right place.' Videos show how 40 different products, such as cars, jelly beans, chocolate, plastic bottles, and denim, are manufactured. Also provides links to virtual tours of factories. Middle school and up (2008, Stanford University). See also How Products Are Made, Volumes 1 - 7; also includes inventor biographies (2001 - 2006, Thomson Gale Publishing; site includes advertisements). What's That Stuff? is a collection of illustrated articles that offer a look at the chemistry behind everyday products, as well as the history of their development, through 2010. New topics are added occasionally at Chemical & Engineering News : What's That Stuff?. High school and up. (1998 - 2012, American Chemical Society; site includes advertisements)
IEEE Global History Network - This timeline shows the history of computers, communications, bioengineering, machinery, transportation and other technologies, and the scientists, engineers & business people who made them happen. High school and up. (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers)
Ingenious Inventions Throughout History - An interactive game, plus images, descriptions, and links to related sites. Featured inventions include the steam engine, carpet cleaner, telephone, battery radio, telecommunication cable, cotton gin, gramophone, electron microscope, and submarine. (Library of Congress)
Inventing Modern America: From the Microwave to the Mouse - In-depth profiles of five inventors and their inventions: computer mouse, balloon catheter, UV water purifier, Kevlar, and human-powered aircraft. Includes video. (2001, Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
Invention Dimension - Good 1- or 2-page biographies of hundreds of inventors, listed alphabetically by the inventor's name. You can also browse inventions by category. High school and up. This website also offers invention links and resources, invention sites for kids, and an Inventor's Handbook that answers FAQs about U.S. patents. (2007 - 2008, Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
Inventions A to Z - Background on the invention of products from aspirin to zippers, with links and lists of recommended books. Not updated regularly, expect some broken links. (1997 - 2007, Vaunt Design Group, an Internet consulting company) [Reference sources used are listed on each page in bold type.]
Inventors A to Z - Includes biographies of some important inventors, with links and lists of recommended books. Not updated regularly, expect some broken links. (1997 - 2007, Vaunt Design Group, an Internet consulting company) [Reference sources used are listed on each page in bold type.]
Inventors Hall of Fame - Click on a broad subject area such as computer, industrial, or Nobel Prize winners, or click on 'Search' to look for a specific invention or inventor. You will get a picture of the inventor and a short biography. Middle school and up. (2000 - 2011, National Inventors Hall of Fame Museum)
Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation - A great collection of online audio and video about inventors and inventions. For related materials, check out the Centerpieces and Resources sections of the site. Invention at Play is a great place to nurture your own inventive talents. (Smithsonian Institution)
People and Discoveries - Stories of 120 twentieth-century scientists and their discoveries. You can search by name or keyword, browse discoveries chronologically or by broad subject. (1998, WGBH / PBS)
Renaissance Connection - Demonstrates connections between the Renaissance and our own era in many aspects of life, including the arts, lifestyles, commerce, and science & technology. (2000, Allentown Art Museum)
Science of Innovation - 'From Thomas Edison's light bulb to Wilbur and Orville Wright's flying machine, inventors and inventions transform the way we communicate, travel and live our daily lives - thanks to the creative process of innovation.' That process is highlighted in this 11-part video series featuring innovators from across the country. (2012, National Science Foundation et al.)
Seven Wonders of the Modern World - Photos and brief descriptions of seven great civil engineering achievements of the 20th century: Channel Tunnel, CN Tower, Empire State Building, Golden Gate Bridge, Itaipu Dam, Netherlands North Sea Protection Works, and Panama Canal. (1996 - 2011, American Society of Civil Engineers)
Street Use - 'This site features the ways in which people modify and re-create technology... In short, stuff as it is actually used, and not how its creators planned on it being used.' High school and up. (By Kevin Kelly of Wired Magazine; site includes advertisements)
Totally Absurd - Just for fun, a website dedicated to 'America's Goofiest Patents, featuring Real, USA Patented Inventions.' (By writer & artist Ted VanCleave; site includes advertisements)
Who Made America? - Explores the life and work of American innovators in business and technology, from Eli Whitney and Samuel Morse to Ted Turner and Estee Lauder, plus many more whose names are less familiar. Profiles of each innovator (with photo) can be viewed chronologically, geographically, and by category. Middle school and up. (PBS; site includes advertisements)
Women in Chemistry - 'Tells the stories of eight fascinating women who dared to follow their drive for success and passion for chemistry - and changed the world for the better.' High school and up. (Chemical Heritage Foundation)
Zoom Inventors and Inventions - Short entries on inventions and inventors, listed A to Z. You can search by time period, by country, or by broad subjects such as communication, medicine, or transportation, and there is also a list of women and African-American inventors. Some entries include a picture. For elementary school students. (2000 - 2010, Enchanted Learning; commercial / user-supported site, includes advertisements)
Air Conditioning - An overview of the development of air conditioning (2010, Time Magazine; site contains advertisements). See also Before Anyone Complained About the Air-Conditioning, an Idea (2012, New York Times; site contains advertisements).
Aviation : Dream of Flight - Tells the story of human flight in words and images, from ancient myths to space travel, with a focus on the Wright brothers. Includes a timeline and list of recommended reading (Library of Congress). See also Air Mail in America and Air & Space Online Exhibitions (Smithsonian Institution).
Communications Technologies : Connected Earth - Fun and informative activities teach you more about the development of the telegraph, the telephone, wireless telecommunication, and personal computers, and how they work. Includes Explode the Equipment to learn more about these devices as well as fax machines, radios, mobile phones, and communications satellites. Middle school and up. (By BT.com and a network of UK museums)
Computer History Timeline - A year-by-year history of the development of computers, from 1939 to 1994, with pictures (2006, Computer History Museum). See also South Plainfield Public Library's Homework Links : COMPUTERS page.
Edison - Includes a biography of Thomas Edison, timeline, information about his inventions, overview of Edison and his era, and more (2011, National Park Service). See also Edison Invents! & Edison after 40 (2001 - 2011, Smithsonian Institution). For a brief history of the incandescent light bulb, see Obituary for the Incandescent Bulb (2010, The Economist; site includes advertisements).
Electron - Text and images exploring the life and work of J.J. Thomson, whose 1897 experiments led to the discovery of the electron, a fundamental building block of matter, and to knowledge which makes today's modern electronic technologies possible. (1997 - 2011, American Institute of Physics)
Energy Technologies - See Energy Facts for Kids and related links.
Ford - Describes the life and career of the Henry Ford, who invented the moving assembly line to manufacture automobiles (2003, The Henry Ford Museum). See also American Experience : Henry Ford (PBS; site includes advertisements).
Glassmaking in Roman Times - 'This website explores several aspects of the history of glassworking throughout the six centuries of Roman domination of the Mediterranean world. Woven into this story is the place of glassware in everyday life, from the lady-of-the-house's cosmetic preparations each morning to the setting of the table for the evening meal. Glassware's use for storage of foodstuffs, wine, and perfumes among the furnishings of a Roman burial is also discussed.' (Penn Museum, University of Pennsylvania)
Gramophone - A biography of Emile Berliner, and the story of how he invented an early sound recording and playing device called the Gramophone. (2002, Library of Congress)
Manufacturing : Machinery & Equipment - Images and brief bios of inventors and innovators in the American machine tool industry, from 1765 to the present. Scroll down the page and click on an image to read the bio (American Precision Museum and Association for Manufacturing Technology). ThomasNet Need-To-Know Guides offers a collection of articles describing a wide range of manufacturing materials and processes, including adhesives & sealants, automation & electronics, chemicals, metals, plastics, rubber, electrical & power generation, cables, magnets, routers, hardware, metal plating, welding, laser cutting, and much more. High school and up (Thomas Publishing Company LLC.).
Medical Technology Milestones - 'From eyeglasses to the stethoscope to imaging the brain at work, a long list of inventions and innovations that have changed medicine' (2012, New York Times; site contains advertisements). Medical Discoveries Timeline [UPDATED LINK!] represents all the research and review articles and case reports published in the New England Journal of Medicine from 1812 to 2012, with links to historical information and articles. There is also a related video documentary, Getting Better : 200 Years of Medicine [UPDATED LINK!] (2012, New England Journal of Medicine). Anesthesia offers brief articles describing the first surgical operation performed under the influence of ether in 1846, what surgery was like before the development of anesthesia, and anesthesiology today (2005, Massachusetts General Hospital). Polio Vaccine is a timeline about the history of polio and the development of the Salk Polio vaccine. There is also an interactive version of the timeline (University of Pittsburgh). See also What Ever Happened to Polio? (2005, Smithsonian Institution). Smallpox Vaccination gives a brief history of the disease and how the vaccine was discovered (Jenner Museum, UK). The Discovery of Insulin provides an overview of 'the most dramatic story in Canadian medicine' (Canadian Encyclopedia); see Discovery and Development of Insulin, 1920-1925 for additional resources (University of Toronto).
Nylon - Describes the invention and commercial development of this significant artificial fiber; article with photos. High school and up. (1998, Smithsonian Institution)
Polymers (Plastics) [Archived site; may be slow to load and navigate] - A brief explanation of what polymer plastics are, plus a timeline, biographies, and additional resources (2007, Chemical Heritage Foundation). The current version of this page, Synthetic Polymers, is mostly biographies. See also What Are Plastics? and Plastics Timeline (2010, Plastics Historical Society). See also Sustainable Plastics for a discussion of problems with fossil-fuel based plastics and the potential of bio-based plastics (2011, Institute for Local Self-Reliance; non-profit organization).
Postal Service History : Systems at Work - An online exhibit that 'leads you through 10 different moments in the nation's history. Together, they reveal the great changes and striking similarities in the postal system over time - how it works, how it connects people, and its profound importance to the nation.' (Smithsonian Institution)
Race for DNA - An in-depth account of the drama behind the race to solve the structure of DNA, written from the perspective of chemist Linus Pauling. Includes primary sources including documents and audio & video clips. (Oregon State University)
Seeds of Trade - Click on Products to find out about the origins of plants from aloe to yam, their early cultivation and uses, and their role in modern life. You can also learn about categories of products (such as building materials or drugs), a historical era, or a region of the world. High school and up. (2007, Natural History Museum, London)
Technology in America - Timelines, photos, and descriptions of important people and events in the history of the Telephone, the Television, and the New York City subway system. Also includes a feature on forgotten inventors. There is a related site on The Great Transatlantic Telegraph Cable (1996 - 2009, WGBH / PBS; site includes advertisements).
Telephone - A brief overview of Alexander Graham Bell's invention of the telephone in 1876, with links to more information, plus a timeline of communications technology from the 19th through the 21st centuries (AT&T). See also Technology in America : Telephone, described above, and Telephone Tribute (1997 - 2006, by David Massey and Bob & Sheri Stritof; personal site).
Television : The Farnsworth Archives - The story of Philo T. Farnsworth, the inventor of television (Farnsworth family site). See also Big Dream, Small Screen and TV Milestones (1996 - 2009, WGBH / PBS; site includes advertisements).
Time - This online exhibit 'explores the changing ways we have measured, used, and thought about time over the past 300 years,' and how mechanical clocks increasingly came to regulate our daily lives. Organized by time periods, of course! (2007, Smithsonian Institution)
Toy Hall of Fame - Pictures and stories about the history of classic toys such as marbles, Crayola crayons, teddy bears, Barbie dolls, Play-Doh, bicycles, Monopoly, jigsaw puzzles, rocking horses, and many others. Site may be slow to load. (Strong Children's Museum)
Transistor - 'The Transistor was probably the most important invention of the 20th Century, and the story behind the invention is one of clashing egos and top secret research.' This site explores the history and science of transistors with text, images, timeline, audio & video clips, and interactive games. (1999, ScienCentral, Inc. and The American Institute of Physics / PBS; site includes advertisements)
Transportation : America on the Move - 'Transportation transformed America. Choose from three interconnected routes to explore how transportation shaped our lives, landscapes, culture, and communities.' Covers automobiles, bicycles, railroads, steamships, streetcars, air travel, and more; includes transportation history videos, transportation infrastructure videos, and transportation technology videos. There is also a Themes index for exploring this large online exhibit, plus interactive games for kids. (2009, Smithsonian Institution)