Posts belonging to Category STEM

Thomas Edison in Your Classroom … Attention Teachers!

Teachers … as you arrive back in school once more, bring Thomas Edison with you and introduce his rich legacy to your students. Here are major points to develop lesson plans; and show how Edison’s work is important to integrating the curriculum.

Thomas Edison in Your Classroom ... Attention Teachers!Edison brought more wealth to civilization than any other human being. He died in 1931, but his accomplishments and industries created live on, representing 10% of the world’s economy. [LESSON PLAN HELPER: Connect history and technology and science]

Undoubtedly, the educational discipline called STEM is being used in your school. Thomas Edison pioneered this interdisciplinary, multidimensional way of solving problems at his West Orange labs 125 years ago. [LESSON PLAN HELPER: Connect science, technology, engineering and math]

With Edison comes that indomitable spirit to never give up, in spite of failures. He epitomized the man who learned valuable lessons from failures…coining his famous quote….”Fail your way to success”. [LESSON PLAN HELPER: Connect science, technology, business and economics]

He created four huge industries…the electric light and utility industry, recorded sound, motion pictures and the modern day R&D lab. All together he had 1093 U.S patents; and counting his overseas patents the total climbs to 2332. His work is broad and deep in scope making him the greatest inventor who ever lived. Life Magazine proclaimed him the Man of the Millennia. [LESSON PLAN HELPER: Connect science, technology, engineering, math, history and economics]

With his creation of industrial R&D labs, Thomas Edison takes the industrial revolution of the late 1880s and extends it indefinitely into the future, systematizing the process of invention, completely changing the standards of living for all on planet Earth—giving us the concept of progress led by technological advancement…the heartbeat of today’s economies the world over. [LESSON PLAN HELPER: Connect creativity, innovation, invention and history]

Thomas Edison was an entrepreneur, a businessman who had both vision and the ability to see and shape new markets for his products. His famous four rules for business were:

  • Think out of the box
  • Be entrepreneurial … take risks
  • Fail your way to success
  • Success demands that you improve your products

[LESSON PLAN HELPER: Connect business, history, economics and innovation]

Thomas Edison in Your Classroom ... Attention Teachers!He saw great potential in both alternate energy technologies solar systems and wind energy; and pioneered the storage batteries needed for electric vehicles. He developed the concept for re-charging electric vehicles in a garage-his garage, all the way back in 1908. [LESSON PLAN HELPER: Connect science, technology, engineering and math]

Thomas Edison was life-long learner and man of letters. He kept 4,000 laboratory notebooks and produced over 5 million written documents. This great man was a master communicator. [LESSON PLAN HELPER: Connect creativity, innovation, language arts and speaking skills]

There are numerous ways to bring Thomas Edison alive to your students in a way that complements your classroom and curriculum. Turn your kids onto this American icon, and they will reward you with a flood of invention and creativity!

Sources of Edison Information for your Classroom:

Classroom Activities to Try:

Have your students identify modern inventors, entrepreneurs, and creative individuals who have that Thomas Edison spirit [i.e. like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Dean Kamen] and discuss them in class.

Invite local inventors into your classroom to discuss how they solve problems and their inventions.

Challenge your class to do some inventing in class:

Let us know how your kids react to Mr. Edison, or if you need some help … contact us at

Oh, by the way…2012 is the 135th anniversary of recorded sound-the phonograph [1877]; the 130th anniversary of the electric utility industry [1882]; and, the 125th anniversary of the West Orange Labs [1887]. Now there are some things to discuss in class!

Thomas Edison on Time MagazineThomas Edison said … “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.”

Time ® is a registered trademark of Time Inc.


Thomas Edison Would Applaud Women in Engineering [FemGineers]!

As middle and high schools implement the integrated subject teaching paradigm known as STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Math], it is natural that increasing amounts of female students would become more interested in what engineers do, and how they solve problems. This head and hands approach to solving problem has shown young women to be quite adept at designing and building activities. Young ladies with a keen interest in taking these courses in school and also participating in after-school classes and design competitions are informally known as “FemGineers”. Here is a New Jersey story about these amazing young ladies.

The first educational program in the nation to offer a formal woman’s oriented engineering and design curriculum was launched 10 years ago at High Point Regional High School in Sussex, NJ. As part of their technology education program, this activity remains vibrant, with many of its former students continuing their technical studies in college and/or having found employment in science and technology related careers.

In 2008, the Heritage Middle School in Livingston, NJ also started a FemGineers program. Starting with just 10 students, this effort has grown to 35 students this year. The original students have now gone on to Livingston High School and established another FemGineers program at that school, with some of the students even coming back to mentor the middle school students! The plan is to grow the Livingston School District FemGineers program to 100 students by 2014. You can see the FemGineers in action below as they participated in a statewide competition to design new cities. Later, the young ladies also competed in the Edison Innovation Foundation’s Thomas Edison Invention Challenge for unique applications for alternate energy. They won awards in both competitions.


FemGineers First Design Their New City Model to Scale

FemGineers First Design Their New City Model to Scale

Building the Scale Model

Building the Scale Model

Presenting to an Engineer-Judge at Statewide Competition

Presenting to an Engineer-Judge at Statewide Competition

Proud of their Work!

Proud of their Work!


The main goal of the program is to empower young women to pursue interests in fields that are traditionally dominated by men.  The FemGineer concept, when introduced at the middle school level, provides the young ladies with a “social fit.”  They are accepted by their peers in the group and are not afraid of being judged.  This transfers to the high school as these girls enroll in courses that have been traditionally dominated by their male peers.  The program provides structure and the confidence needed for young women to eventually pursue careers in STEM related fields.

All this is music to the ears of engineering colleges, who for years have been trying to interest young women in becoming full- fledged engineers. Women have already made some significant inroads into engineering, but the profession can use many more; and introductory engineering programs in the middle and high schools can be a terrific way to spread the interest and fun of engineering.

By the way, tiny New Jersey was one of the first states to adopt a technology education curriculum back in 1986, leading to an international revolution in teaching students about the engineered world. This little state is ranked 4th among all states in the total number of inventions awarded to its many scientists, engineers, technologists, and inventors. And of course it is home to the greatest inventor in the world, Thomas Edison. Were he here today, no doubt he would be a supporter of this kind of head and hands, practical method of education. In his time, he made many comments about the state of education and the need for more focused methods of showing how school relates to work. How pleased he would be to see the FemGineers in action!

Editor’s Deep Dive

Thomas Edison on Time Magazine

To have a great idea, have a lot of them.

 Time ® is a registered trademark of Time Inc.


Thomas Edison and Steve Jobs

Keep the Spirit Alive-Teach Them in our Schools!

They are both gone now… …but their vision, creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship endures, making them so very relevant to our modern society. Let us bring the spirit of these two American icons into the classroom, integrating it into the highly successful STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math] teaching philosophy now sweeping our schools. Challenge our children to create and dream like them!

Steve Jobs and Thomas Edison

Time ® is a registered trademark of Time Inc.

  Steve Jobs 1955-2011                         Thomas Edison 1847-1931