Thursday, January 20, 2011
What Makes an Inventor?
A third grade class visited today for a book talk about inventors. Preparing for it forced me to consider what constitutes an inventor and generated thoughtful conversation between the classroom teacher and myself. There were easy picks: Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Milton Hershey, Benjamin Franklin. There were some folks not as well known to the children: Margaret Knight (invented a machine to make the square paper bag bottoms), William Boeing, Levi Strauss (they eventually recognized that one), Eli Whitney, Guglielmo Marconi. And then there were innovators who did not have a tangible object for all their ideas like most inventors: Sister Elizabeth Kenny, Tim Berners-Lee, Albert Einstein, Sequoyah, Galileo, Frank Lloyd Wright. Would readers shy away from people in the latter group? I wondered. After hearing about 40+ people, the children had definite preferences, and they eagerly shared their reasons as they hugged their books. Once again, I witnessed the power of sharing snippets in an effort to engage interest.