light bulb Inventors, Inventions &
Scientific Discoveries
See also:
BIOGRAPHY
COMPUTERS
SCIENCE, MATH & TECHNOLOGY

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

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.

EBSCO SCIENCE REFERENCE CENTER is no longer available.

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)

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 - 2015, 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 & 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, 2015; site includes advertisements)

History of Invention [Archived site] - A timeline of invention from the wheel to the DVD. Click on any invention for more information; for all ages. [NOTE: If you click on a link that is broken, the Internet Archive will usually provide an alternative link that works] (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation).

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 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. [NOTE: To view older topics, use the 'More Articles' dropdown menus below the current content.] (2004 - 2015, American Chemical Society; site includes advertisements)

Ingenious Inventions Throughout History 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 for kids and educators VIDEO, including an Inventor Handbook that answers FAQs about U.S. patents. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

Inventions A to Z - 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 for each invention or inventor; expect 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 - 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 AUDIO VIDEO - Online audio and video about inventors and inventions. For related materials, check out the Invention Stories section of the site. Do Try This at Home INTERACTIVE offers great activities 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)

Science of Innovation VIDEO - '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.)

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. (2006 - 2011, Kevin Kelly of Wired Magazine; 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. (2004, 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; expect broken links. (Chemical Heritage Foundation)

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 (2004 - 2016, Smithsonian Institution).

Communications Technologies: Connected Earth 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 BT.com 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)

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 after 40 (2001 - 2011, Smithsonian Institution).

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 - 2015, American Institute of Physics)

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

Ford UPDATED LINK! 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 (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 - '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). 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); see also Anesthesia Fact Sheet NEW! (2016, U.S. National Institutes of Health). 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 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 (2003, University of Toronto). 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). The current version of this page, Synthetic Polymers, is mostly biographies. See also What Are Plastics? UPDATED LINK! and Plastics Timeline UPDATED LINK! (2015, Plastics Historical Society). See also Sustainable Plastics for a discussion of problems with fossil-fuel based plastics and the potential of bio-based plastics (2015, Institute for Local Self-Reliance; non-profit organization).

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.' (Smithsonian Institution)

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).

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, and timeline (1999, ScienCentral, Inc. and The American Institute of Physics / PBS; site includes advertisements). [NOTE: Audio, video, & interactive features on this site no longer work.]

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 a Themes index for exploring this large online exhibit, plus additional learning resources and interactive games for kids. (2009, Smithsonian Institution)

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