light bulb Inventors, Inventions &
Scientific Discoveries
See also:

Funk & Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia
EBSCO Explora
Facts on File: American Science Online

General Invention / Inventor Sites

Facts on File: American Science OnlineFACTS 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.

African American Inventors NEW! - AUDIO VIDEO - Brief descriptions of 16 historical and contemporary inventors, many with links to additional information (Smithsonian Institution).

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)

Engineering Everywhere VIDEO - Videos show how the engineering design process is used to solve real-world engineering problems; middle school. Related curriculum units are also available for educators (2017 - 2018; Museum of Science, Boston).

Engines of Our Ingenuity - 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 - 2017, University of Houston)

Everyday Mysteries [Archived page] - 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 & Math 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 the fairs and expos of the present era, as well as information about upcoming fairs. Expect some broken links (By Urso Chappell; site includes advertisements). For an in-depth look at the New York World's Fair of 1939-40, see World's Fair: Enter the World of Tomorrow (New York Public Library).

History of Invention [Archived page] - A timeline of invention from the wheel to the DVD. Click on any invention for more information; for all ages. (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation).

History of Medicine - See Medical Technology Milestones and related links, below.

History of Science & Technology - Takes a look at bicycles, adding machines, the light bulb, the lightning rod, photography, weather measurement, and other inventions from the Franklin Institute's collection of historical artifacts to explore the history of science and technology. For middle and high school students (2015, Franklin Institute).

How Everyday Things Are Made [Archived page] VIDEO - '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). 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; high school and up (2018, American Chemical Society; site includes advertisements).

How It Began AUDIO - A podcast about the History of the Modern World. 'Humanity has been hard at work for centuries to empower itself with better tools and insights, from science and surgery to electricity and the Internet, and this series celebrates the history of those triumphs. Compared to our ancestors, we live like superheroes and sorcerers, endowed with powers they could never have imagined. But how did we achieve all this? This show tackles that question head on, revealing how the most important scientific, technological, and cultural advancements in history began, and inspiring us to keep reaching for new historical triumphs along the way.' (2018, Bradford Harris, PhD.)

Ingenious Inventions Throughout History [Archived page] INTERACTIVE - Describes the origins of more than a dozen inventions, including the steam engine, carpet cleaner, telephone, battery radio, telecommunication cable, cotton gin, gramophone, electron microscope, and submarine. Expect some broken links. (Library of Congress)

Inventor Archive - 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 VIDEO, including an Inventor Handbook that answers FAQs about U.S. patents (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). USPTO Kids has more resources for kids and teens on inventions & patents (United States Patent and Trademark Office).

Inventions A to Z [Archived pages] - Examines the history of products from aspirin to zippers. Another section of the site, Inventors A to Z has biographies of some important inventors. Both sections include lists of recommended books and websites (many broken links) for each invention or inventor. (1997 - 2007, Vaunt Design Group, an Internet consulting company) [Reference sources used are listed on each page in bold type.]

Inventors Hall of Fame UPDATED LINK! - Enter a keyword or name to look for a specific invention or inventor. You will get a picture of the inventor and a short biography; middle school and up. (National Inventors Hall of Fame Museum)

Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation: Do Try This at Home INTERACTIVE - Great activities to nurture your own inventive talents. (Smithsonian Institution)

People and Discoveries [Archived page] - 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)

Street Use [Archived page] - '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. (2006 - 2011, Kevin Kelly of Wired Magazine; site includes advertisements)

Who Made America? [Archived page] - 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. (2004, PBS; site includes advertisements)

Women in Chemistry VIDEO - A TV show and companion film series celebrating women scientists and entrepreneurs. Use the menu to find additional biographies of scientists. High school and up. (Science History Institute)

Women Inventors NEW! AUDIO VIDEO - Stories of historical and contemporary women inventors. (Smithsonian Institution).

Individual Inventors, Inventions, Innovations & Discoveries

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 (2010, Library of Congress). See also Air Mail in America and Air & Space Online Exhibitions (Smithsonian Institution). For the development of SPACE FLIGHT, see Astronomy, Planets, and Space Flight links.

Communications Technologies: Connected Earth [Archived pages] INTERACTIVE - 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 and a network of UK museums)

Computer History - See Homework Links: COMPUTERS.

DNA Discovery: The Race for DNA AUDIO VIDEO - 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 (2013, Oregon State University). Genome: Unlocking Life's Code has an interactive timeline of milestones from Mendel to the Human Genome Project, plus other student resources (Smithsonian Museum and National Human Genome Research Institute).

Edison - Includes a biography of Thomas Edison, timeline, information about his inventions, overview of Edison and his era, and more (2015, National Park Service). See also Edison after 40 (2001 - 2018, Smithsonian Institution) and Electrifying America (Digital Public Library of America).

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 - 2018, American Institute of Physics)

Energy Technologies - See Energy Facts for Kids and related links.

Ford VIDEO - Describes the life and career of the Henry Ford, who invented the moving assembly line to manufacture automobiles (2013, The Henry Ford Museum). See also American Experience: Henry Ford VIDEO (2013, 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.' (2009; Penn Museum, University of Pennsylvania)

Gramophone AUDIO - 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: Machine Tool Hall of Fame - Images and brief bios of inventors and innovators in the American machine tool industry, from 1765 to the present. 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 Timeline [Archived page] - '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). Getting Better: 200 Years of Medicine VIDEO is a short documentary exploring three remarkable stories of medical progress - cancer, HIV/AIDS, surgery - and how we have continued to get better over the last 200 years (2012, New England Journal of Medicine; hosted on YouTube). History of Anesthesia is an overview of the development of anesthesia, with links to additional information (Royal College of Anaesthetists). What Ever Happened to Polio? explores the American polio epidemics of the past, the development of the vaccine, and more; includes timeline, learning activities, and historic photos (2005, Smithsonian Institution). Smallpox Vaccination [Link opens a PDF] gives a biography of Dr. Edward Jenner, a brief history of the disease and how the vaccine was discovered (Jenner Museum, UK). See History of Vaccines for a timeline, articles, activities and other resources on all kinds of vaccines; high school and up (2017, The College of Physicians of Philadelphia). 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 (2003, University of Toronto). The Real Story behind Penicillin describes the discovery of one of the world's first antibiotics (2013, PBS NewsHour). See also History of Medicine and related links.

Polymers (Plastics) [Archived page, 2007] - A brief explanation of what polymer plastics are, plus a timeline, biographies, and additional resources (Chemical Heritage Foundation). There is also a related page, History & Future of Plastics (Science History Institute). See also What Are Plastics? and Plastics Timeline (2015, Plastics Historical Society).

Postal Service History: Systems at Work VIDEO - 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.' See also Air Mail in America. (Smithsonian Institution)

Radio: Who Invented Radio? - Examines the question of whether radio was invented by Marconi or Tesla (PBS; site includes advertisements). See also Radio: History of Radio (, South Carolina ETV Commission).

Space Flight - See Astronomy, Planets, and Space Flight links.

Telephone - A brief overview of the invention of the telephone, with related primary documents, images, and other resources (Digital Public Library of America). See also Who is credited as inventing the telephone? (Library of Congress).

Television - An overview of the invention of television (, South Carolina ETV Commission). See also The Farmboy Who Invented Television (2017, Smithsonian Magazine; 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 [NOTE: Archived page; media features no longer work.] - '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, and timeline (1999, ScienCentral, Inc. and The American Institute of Physics / PBS; site includes advertisements).

Transportation: America on the Move INTERACTIVE - '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 additional learning resources. (2009, Smithsonian Institution)

revised 2/19 jd


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