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.
EBSCO SCIENCE REFERENCE CENTER - Easy access to a multitude of science-oriented content, including full text for nearly 640 science encyclopedias, reference books, periodicals, etc. Covers biology, chemistry, earth & space science, environmental science, health & medicine, history of science, life science, physics, science & society, science as inquiry, scientists, technology and wildlife. If you're using SCIENCE REFERENCE CENTER on your home computer, you'll have to enter your name, library card barcode, and PIN to begin.
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)
Best Inventions of 2010 - Time Magazine's choices for the year's best inventions. Scroll to the bottom of the page for links to Time's choice of best inventions for 2001 - 2009. See also Best Inventions of 2011 and Best Inventions of 2012. (Site includes advertisements)
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 [UPDATED LINK!] - 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).
How Stuff Works - How does the picture get into your television set? How can the sound of a whole orchestra come out of a compact disc? This website explains exactly how all kinds of technologies work, 'from car engines to search engines, from cell phones to stem cells, and thousands of subjects in between.' High school and up. (1998 - 2011, Discovery Communications, LLC; site includes advertisements)
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)
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)
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)
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)
What's That Stuff? - 'Ever wondered about what's really in hair coloring, Silly Putty, Cheese Wiz, artificial snow, or self-tanners?' These illustrated articles 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)
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 Milestones of Flight, Air Mail in America, and 50 Years of the Space Age. (2004 - 2010, 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.
Construction - Explores the art of construction 'from cave to skyscraper', with learning materials explaining various concepts, techniques and problems in construction. A companion to The Art of Construction textbook; middle school and up. (Salvadori Educational Center on the Built Environment; non-profit organization)
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 : 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 Facts for Kids - Explains the different sources and uses of renewable and nonrenewable energy; also offers an energy quiz, and biographies of historic pioneers in energy from Isaac Newton to G. E. Alcorn. Middle and high school students (U.S. Department of Energy). World of Oil explains the history and geology of petroleum: how it is formed, methods of discovery, and a variety of everyday uses (2009, Paleontological Research Institution / Cornell University). For more on petroleum, see Extreme Oil (2004, Thirteen/WNET New York and Educational Broadcasting Corporation / PBS; site includes advertisements). The WhyFiles site offers information on Nuclear Waste (2008, University of Wisconsin).
Ford - Describes the life and career of the Henry Ford, who invented the moving assembly line to manufacture automobiles (2003, The Henry Ford Museum).
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)
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)
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 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 (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). Discovery of Insulin documents the initial period of the discovery and development of insulin, 1920-1925 (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 Servic 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; site includes advertisements).
Television : The Farnsworth Archives - The story of Philo T. Farnsworth, the inventor of television (Farnsworth family site). See also Big Dream, Small Screen & TV Milestones (1996 - 2009, WGBH / PBS; site includes advertisements), and MZTV Museum of Television (CTVglobemedia Inc. et al.).
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)