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Thomas Alva Edison was called Alva, or Al by his family. He was a
very curious child. He was always asking questions. Even his
mother, who had once been a schoolteacher could not answer all
his questions. He would experiment to try to find the answers. Once
he tried to hatch some eggs by sitting on them. Another time he
accidently burned down the family's barn.
The teacher told someone she thought there was something wrong
with Alva; that he was quot;addledquot; * . He told his mother and they took
him out of the school. He only went to school for 3 months in his
whole life. Afterwards, he was taught at home.
He wanted to experiment. To make money for his experiments, he
went to work at age 12 selling newspapers and candy on a train.
When he had some spare time on the train, he would do
experiments in the baggage car.
When he was 16 he went to work for the telegraph * office sending
He became nearly deaf due to an injury to his ears. He later said he
didn't mind being deaf because it helped him to concentrate.
When he was 22 years old he went to New York. He only had $1 in
his pocket. He hunted for a job during the day, and at night he slept
in the basement of a gold company. He watched everything around
him very closely. Some equipment broke down and Edison was able
to fix it because he had been watching it work before he went to
sleep each night. The owners gave him a job. He improved the
machine so much the company paid him $40,000 for his invention.
He started the American Telegraph Works in New Jersey.
He built a laboratory in Menlo Park, New Jersey. It was here with his
employees he made many of his inventions. He would work night
after night, and sometimes he would fall asleep at his workbench.
His wife wouldn't see him for days at a time.
He and his team worked to make a light bulb which would burn for a
long time without burning out. They tried 1,500 materials and
nothing worked well. Finally he tried a new material in the filament *
that burned nearly 200 hours.
After he had made the light bulb, he worked to make a power
system so people could use the bulb. In 1882 he flipped a switch
and 85 houses in New York City had electric lights for the first time.
Thomas Edison was probably the world's greatest inventor. He had
a patent on 1,093 inventions. In addition to the electric light, he also
invented the phonograph * , a camera to take motion pictures, a
cement mixer, the automatic * telegraph, and he improved
Alexander Graham Bell's telephone.
Biography at gardenofpraise.com
Born 1847 - Died 1931
1. Tell about some of Edison's childhood experiments.
2. Why did Edison's mother decide to homeschool him?
3. What jobs did Edison hold when he was a child?
4. What was the name of the company he started in New Jersey?
5. How did deafness prove to be an asset to Edison?
6. Give an example of Edison's persistence in making the light
7. Why was it important for Edison to build a power system in New
8. What else did Edison invent besides the light bulb?
9. What would you like to invent?
Biography at gardenofpraise.com
ALEXANDER GRAHAM BELL
Born 1847 - Died 1922
Alexander Graham Bell was born in Scotland. His mother, who was
deaf, was a musician and a painter of portraits. His father, who
taught deaf people how to speak, invented quot;Visible Speechquot;. This
was a code which showed how the tongue, lips, and throat were
positioned to make speech sounds. Graham, or quot;Aleckquot;, as his
family called him, was interested in working with the deaf throughout
He only attended school for five years; from the time he was 10 until
he was 14, but he never stopped learning. He read the books in his
grandfather's library and studied tutorials.
When he was a teen-ager, he and his brother Melly used the voice
box of a dead sheep to make a speaking machine that cried,
quot;Mama!quot; This created even more interest in human speech and how
When he was in his early 20's, his two brothers died of tuberculosis
* . Bell himself had the disease and his father moved the family to
Canada looking for a better climate in which to live. Bell recovered
from the disease.
Two years later he went to Boston to open a school for teachers of
the deaf and then became a professor at Boston University. It was at
this time that he met Mabel Hubbard, one of his students who was
10 years younger than he. Mabel had become deaf at the age of
four due to scarlet fever. Five years later they were married. At the
wedding ceremony he gave her a gift of all but 10 shares of the
stock in the newly formed company called Bell Telephone Company.
They had three sons.
Thomas Watson became an associate of Bell. He made parts and
built models of Bell's inventions. One day while they were working
Bell accidently heard the sound of a plucked reed * coming over the
telegraph wire. Watson had been tuning the metal reeds in the next
room. Bell drew up a plan for the telephone and they continued to
experiment. The next day he transmitted the famous words, quot;Mr.
Watson, come here. I want you!quot; A few months later on Feb. 14,
1876, he applied for a patent on his telephone.
He knew he would have to work
quickly to get the patent * because
other people were also trying to
make an invention to transmit the
human voice. Elisha Gray claims he
too invented the telephone, but Bell
got to the patent office an hour or so
before he did. It is said that Antonio
Meucci also succeeded with the
invention before Bell.
A copy of
Because Bell had the patent, he had the right to be the only one to
produce telephones in the U.S. for the next 19 years.
He showed the invention to Queen Victoria of England and she
wanted lines to connect her castles.
By 1917, nearly all of the United State had telephone service.
He continued to invent other things. He developed a method of
making phonograph * records on a wax disc. He made an iron
breathing lung, and a device for locating icebergs at sea. He
experimented with sheep. He was interested in kites that could lift a
man, and he invented a hydrofoil * which set a world speed record of
over 70 miles per hour.
He along with others started the National Geographic Society and
he served as its president for several years.
He became a U.S. citizen, but he died in Canada at the age of 75.
July 30, 1863 - April 7, 1947
Henry Ford was born on a farm near Detroit, Michigan. He never
really enjoyed farming and left the farm at age sixteen, three years
after his mother died.
As a child he was fascinated by machines. He always carried
around in his pockets nuts and bolts and machinery parts. By the
time he was thirteen he could put together a watch that kept time.
This interest in machines led him to work for a while as an
apprentice machinist, and later he went to work for Westinghouse
servicing their steam engines.
Clara Bryant became his wife in 1888. He returned to the farm, built
a house, and ran a sawmill. They had one child, a son they named
When Henry was twenty-eight he became an engineer at Edison
Company which made electrical generating stations. He was made
chief engineer two years later and advanced to a salary of $125 a
The first car he made was a quot;gasoline buggyquot; called the
Quadricycle. He drove it around for two years, and it
drew a crowd everywhere he went.
In 1903 he built two race cars to advertise the automobile. One he
named the quot;999quot; and the other the quot;Arrowquot;. He hired Barney
Oldfield, a professional bicycle rider and race car driver to race for
him. In 1904 Ford himself driving the Ford Arrow set a new land
speed record in his car - over 91 miles per hour! The event took
place on the frozen ice of Lake St. Claire.
When he was forty years old Ford and eleven investors formed the
Ford Motor Company. They had a $28,000 investment in it.
The Model T Ford was introduced on
October 1, 1908. Some called it the
quot;Tin Lizziequot; and the quot;Flivverquot;. The cost
of the touring car: $950. Five years later
he started using an assembly line and
could produce cars faster and cheaper
until the price of the touring car fell to $360.
Ford Assembly Line
Assembly lines had been used before,
but he was the first to use conveyor* belts
to move the parts where they needed them.
The 1912 Model T Ford
touring car included such
extras as oil lamps, horn, 1912 Model T
speedometer, and tools.
Henry Ford's motto was quot;simplicityquot; *. By simplifying the process of
making cars, he was able to make the car affordable to the common
worker in America. Of course, this simplification resulted in only one
color choice. He wrote, quot;A customer can have a car painted any
colour that he wants - so long as it is black.quot;
In his book he contrasts the making of axe handles by hand and
machine to show how mechanization *reduced the cost of his car.
Ford hired handicapped workers*. He studied the jobs and the
requirements and put each man in a place where he could do the
job and make a living for his family.
Sales lagged in the 1920's as other
car makers offered more options and
financing. He and his son Edsel
Restored Model A Ford designed a new car, the Model A.
Ford was a firm believer in the idea that the able-bodied should
work. He thought as an employer his job was to serve others. He
paid his workers $5 a day. This was nearly twice as much as most
employers paid their employees. He felt there was something sacred
about wages and what they represent.
He instituted the 40 hour week with men working eight hours a day,
five days a week. He had a code of conduct for his employees which
forbade heavy drinking and gambling.
His company also made airplanes for a few years. One, a twelve
passenger plane, was called the quot;Tin Goosequot;. He produced tractors
to help the farmer to farm more efficiently.
Ford developed an interest in plastics made from soybeans. He
worked with George Washington Carver on the research. He even
made a plastic car that could withstand heavy blows even better
than steel. However, it was never successful.
Ford had a heart attack in 1938 and turned the running of the
company over to his son, but Edsel died five years later, and Ford
had to again assume leadership. He stayed in that position for two
years, but due to his ill health, he made his grandson Henry Ford II
president of the company in 1945.
Henry Ford died at the age of 83 of a cerebral * hemorrhage *. He
was one of many people who helped to make America great. At the
end of his book he describes his vision of a great country in which
the resources of a country and the skills of its people are developed
so that all have a fair share.
Biography at gardenofpraise.com
E F I W R O T C A R T B X
Y H A S S E M B L Y Y H P
T A Q R Y V J K Z N G N B
I N D U S T R I A L I S T
C D A C A F W P X Y F W M
I I B I A D M A R J O U A
L C J R R O R T G R R E C
P A M E C P S I K E D N H
M P X M C U L E C O S I I
I P O J D A R A Y Y O E N
S E U N V S R G N E C A E
W D I B L A C K O E M L S
E L I B O M O T U A K T E
AIRPLANE ASSEMBLY AUTOMOBILE
BLACK COMPANY FARM
FORD HANDICAPPED INDUSTRIALIST
INDUSTRY MACHINES QUADRICYCLE
RACE SIMPLICITY TRACTOR
WAGES WIFE WORKERS
Created by Puzzlemaker at DiscoverySchool.com
Bonus: Use the words to tell or write a story about Henry Ford.