Edison’s Desk: An Education and Media Platform

It’s not unusual in design, just a classic oak roll-top desk, now with a thick plastic cover to protect its surface artifacts from dust and human touch. Come to think about it, this poignant reminder of the past may be one of the most photographed desks in the world.

Edison’s Desk: An Education and Media Platform

From this once raw hunk of tree, Thomas Edison made his big decisions, held meetings at, and managed the affairs of the thirty companies that made up Thomas A. Edison Industries. Just adjacent to it [on the left side of the desk] rests his invented voice recording instrument, soon to transform into the standard dictating machines so common in the world of business.

Edison’s Desk: An Education and Media Platform

It’s placement in his large library office is itself noteworthy. Edison knew that invention and innovation always starts with information, research, and study-of what already has been accomplished— and what could possibly be. For him, being in a constant state of learning and self-education was the key. His desk sat on the ground floor of a three-level atrium which on each level were bookshelves containing thousands of books, technical journals and patent records.

Edison’s Desk: An Education and Media Platform

Our favorite cubby hole in the old roll-top desk is simply labeled “New Things”, stuffed with ideas for investigation that could someday become new products. That little compartment completely captured the essence of his invention factory [R&D labs]…where the great inventor gave us the keys to the kingdom-the process of taking raw ideas and turning them into finished products; what we call today, team-based product development….or as some technology gurus call it- technology driven progress. Edison always encouraged his project teams, of which there were usually 30-40 at a time, to learn and educate themselves in new technologies. All his staff could use the “corporate library”, another hallmark of modern corporations.

We refer to our Edison Innovation Foundation educational materials for students and teachers as “Edison’s Desk”, evoking the spirit of the great inventor inside our products and services. Here are the things we currently offer within the Edison’s Desk education and media platform:

  • Solar and alternate energy resource books
  • Teacher seminars, videos and webcasts about invention
  • Annual Thomas Edison Invention Challenge [conducted nationally]
  • Special science and technology programs offered at the Thomas Edison National Historical Park and at schools
  • Educational articles for teachers and educators
  • New educational STEM-based lab on the second floor of the Edison Garage
  • Inventor’s notebook, used by teachers when teaching invention
  • Licensing opportunities to use Edison name or other intellectual property

Thomas Edison on Time Magazine“I find out what the world needs. Then I go ahead and try to invent it.”

Time® is a registered trademark of Time Inc.

Please connect with any of the media or education materials above and email us at info@thomasedison.org about any items you found helpful.

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Thomas Edison’s Secret Lab

Coming to Comcast and select PBS stations in September 2015

Picture an unusual group of techno-savvy tweens who discover a hidden secret lab, built and stocked by none other than Thomas Edison at his former lab site in West Orange, NJ. Imagine what these young talented minds could do with the resources of such a lab, and with help from their mentor, Thomas Edison.

Genius Brands International, a children’s entertainment company dedicated to creating “content with a purpose” for kids, created this new Thomas Edison’s Secret Lab adventure comedy series in association with The Edison Innovation Foundation.

Thomas Edison’s Secret Lab

It’s all about showing kids how fun science can be as Edison’s hologram encourages them to push the boundaries of conventional science and technology, and to solve real problems. [Sounds like today’s new school educational paradigm called STEM!] The series has been reviewed by a nationally recognized academic team to ensure episode content meets educational and information standards.

Get ready to enjoy colorful animated characters, gizmos, gadgets, and hijinks. The series begins airing in September on Comcast, and select PBS stations – check local listings.

Somebody mention Von Bolt? He’s the wacky, anthropomorphic robot-a somewhat nervous fellow who is an essential part of each episode. Von Bolt “watches the back” of Angie, 12-year old scientific prodigy, modern-day Edison, and team leader. She is accompanied by JD-resourceful geek; Nicky-scientific genius; Kent-marketing maven; Chang-computer wizard; and of course, the holographic image of Edison for the kids to interact with. Speaking of the cast, feast your eyes below and see them all set to “edu-tain” you.

Follow the series, and get the pre-tweens engaged. It’s never too early to start learning about Thomas Edison and his amazing ability to innovate! Keep up with Thomas Edison information at:

Thomas Edison’s Secret Lab

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Edison Smiles Over Progress of Solar Energy

If you cruise the Internet and check out solar companies, chances are high you will find Edison’s famous 1910 quote:

“I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that. I wish I had more years left.”

According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, 17,500+ MW of cumulative solar electric capacity is now operating in the U.S., enough to power more than 3.5 million average American homes. This includes power generated from the three types of solar-electric systems: photovoltaic panel systems on the roofs of homes, businesses, schools … etc; large scale utility-size systems; and, solar thermal power generation systems [power towers].

(Pictured Left) Residential roof system being installed. (Pictured Right) School size system.

(Pictured Left) Residential roof system being installed. (Pictured Right) School size system.

Consider these additional important facts as well:

  • The U.S. solar industry employs over 160,000 workers.
  • 36% of all new electric generating capacity in 2014 was from solar systems.
  • Since 2004, the installed price of solar system capacity dropped from $8.50 per watt to about $3.80.
  • The over 1100 national commercial solar system installations displaced over 549,246 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions.
  • The top three states with cumulative solar electric capacity are California, Arizona, and New Jersey.
  • US solar energy capacity grew an astounding 418% from 2010-2014.
(Pictured Left) Utility size system could cover square miles. (Pictured Right) Hundreds of thousands of mirrors concentrate sunlight to make electricity ... square miles of land needed.

(Pictured Left) Utility size system could cover square miles. (Pictured Right) Hundreds of thousands of mirrors concentrate sunlight to make electricity … square miles of land needed.

Solar electricity now contributes just a small fraction of our nation’s current electricity needs, but it is becoming a highly desirable and super-clean form of electric generation. If Edison were alive today, he would certainly be competing in the marketplace with new solar application ideas. Remember, it was Edison who gave us the modern electric utility system in the first place … and he was always improving his inventions, making room for new technologies. He would certainly make room for solar!

Editor Deep Dive

Try this … calculate how much solar energy could save when installed on your home at: pvwatts.nrel.gov/pvwatts.php

Thomas Edison on Time MagazineThomas Edison said, “If we all did the things we are really capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves …”

Time® is a registered trademark of Time Inc.