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 this resource at home, you'll have to enter your library card barcode to begin.

1000 Inventions NEW! VIDEO INTERACTIVE - Highlights historical contributions by Muslim/Arabic scholars and scientists rom the 7th century onwards, to advancements in math, science, medicine and engineering. (UK-based non-profit)

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

Ancient Inventions [Archived page] - 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)

Digital Public Library: Science & Technology - Primary source sets on topics including the Cotton Gin & the Expansion of Slavery, Space Race, Steam Engine & Transportation in the Nineteenth Century, Invention of the Telephone, Electrifying America, and the Atomic Bomb and the Nuclear Age. Each topic has a short overview of the subject and links to additional resources. (Digital Public Library of America)

Do Try This at Home INTERACTIVE - Great activities to nurture your own inventive talents. The related JV InvenTeams activity guides NEW!, including educator and student versions for grades 6-10, support hands-on learning and teach students about the role invention plays in making everyday products (Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, Smithsonian Institution). Kids Invent Stuff VIDEO is a YouTube channel where 4 -11 year olds have the chance to get their invention ideas built by real engineers! Kids are encouraged to submit their ideas for inventions to solve a different challenge each month.

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 on Podbay UPDATED LINK!. High school and up. (1988 - present, University of Houston)

Everyday Mysteries UPDATED LINK! - Q & A about science and inventions such as GPS, boomerangs, frozen foods, automobiles, and more. Arranged by subject. Middle school and up (Library of Congress). See related links 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 [Archived page] (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 adding machines, the light bulb, 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).

Ingenious Inventions Throughout History [Archived page] - 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. (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. See also Do Try This at Home and related links, above (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). USPTO Kids has more resources for kids and teens on inventions & patents, including Patents through History VIDEO (United States Patent and Trademark Office).

Inventors Hall of Fame - 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)

New Jersey History: It Happened Here [Archived page] VIDEO - A collection of videos and related educational resources created for NJ's 350th anniversary in 2014. Includes videos on some invention-related topics such as 'Invention of the Telegraph,' 'Thomas Edison's Light Bulb,' 'Bell Labs: Communication Innovation,' and 'Fort Lee Studios: Where the Movie Magic Began.' For elementary through high school students. (State of New Jersey).

People and Discoveries [Archived page] - Brief stories of twentieth-century scientists and their discoveries. You can search by name or keyword, browse discoveries chronologically or by broad subject. (1998, WGBH / PBS)

What's That Stuff? - 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).

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

Individual Inventors, Inventions, Innovations & Discoveries

Air Conditioning [Archived page] - An overview of the development of air conditioning (2010, Time Magazine; site contains advertisements).

Aviation: Dream of Flight [Archived page] - 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 [Archived page] and Air & Space Online Exhibitions (Smithsonian Institution). For the development of SPACE FLIGHT, see Astronomy, Planets, and Space Flight links.

Computer History - See Computer History Timeline & related links and Birth of the Internet & related links.

DNA Discovery: The Race for DNA [Archived page] 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 [Archived page] - 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 [Archived page] (2001 - 2018, Smithsonian Institution) and Electrifying America (Digital Public Library).

Electron [Archived page] - 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 also led 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 [Archived page] VIDEO (2013, PBS; site includes advertisements).

Glassmaking in Roman Times [Archived page] - '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 [Archived page] 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: ThomasNet Daily Bite - A collection of articles describing a wide range of manufacturing materials, products, 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 [Archived page] 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 [Archived page] is an overview of the development of anesthesia, with links to additional information (Royal College of Anaesthetists). What Ever Happened to Polio? [Archived page] 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); see also There is no cure for polio (Digital Public Library). Edward Jenner (smallpox vaccine) gives a biograpy of Dr. Edward Jenner and his discovery of the world's first vaccine (Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.). See History of Vaccines for articles and other resources on past and recent vaccine developments; high school and up (The College of Physicians of Philadelphia). Discovery and Development of Insulin, 1920-1925 [Archived page] documents the initial period of the discovery and development of insulin, with texts, notebooks, letters, photos and other primary resources; also includes biographies and timeline [Archived page] (2003, University of Toronto). The Real Story behind Penicillin [Archived page] 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] - A brief explanation of what polymer plastics are, plus a timeline, biographies, and additional resources (2007, Chemical Heritage Foundation). There is also a related page, History & Future of Plastics [Archived page] (2013, Science History Institute). See also What Are Plastics? [Archived page] and Plastics Timeline [Archived page] (2015, Plastics Historical Society).

Postal Service History: Systems at Work [Archived page] 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? [Archived page] - 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? UPDATED LINK! (Library of Congress) and Telegraph and Telephone; grades 3 - 5 (, South Carolina ETV Commission).

Television - An overview of the invention of television; grades 3 - 5 (, South Carolina ETV Commission). See also The Farmboy Who Invented Television [Archived page] (2017, Smithsonian Magazine; site includes advertisements).

Time [Archived page] - 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 (2007, Smithsonian Institution). See also A Walk Through Time (History of Clocks & Timekeeping) [Archived page] (U.S. Department of Commerce).

Toy Hall of Fame and Museum of Play UPDATED LINKS! - 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, plus video games and more. (Strong Children's Museum)

Transistor [NOTE: Archived page; media features do not 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 - See Transportation: America on the Move.

Vaccines - See Medical Technology Milestones, above.

revised 5/22 jd


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