Educational materials :: Smithsonian Lemelson Center
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Educational Materials

Lemelson Center educators have developed resources for teachers, parents, and students who want to explore the exciting world of invention. These materials are provided free of charge to educators in the classroom and the home.
Above: A student explores the science of colors. Smithsonian photo by Rick Vargas.
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Publications
Prototype Online: Podcast Activity Guide for Teachers

An activity guide for teachers complements the Lemelson Center's podcast series, "Prototype Online: Inventive Voices." Students gain a broader understanding of invention and inventors--their motivations, successes, and disappointments--through guided activities designed for use before, during, and after listening to a podcast.

Prototype Online Podcast Activity Guide (PDF document. File size: 1 MB.)

Additional materials:

Listen to the Prototype Online: Inventive Voices podcast series.

Invention at Play

Explore the playful side of invention--and the inventive side of play--in the Lemelson Center’s interactive traveling exhibit and companion Web site, Invention at Play. Learn how play--the ordinary and everyday “work of childhood”--connects with the creative impulse of both historic and contemporary inventors. Invention at Play departs from traditional representations of inventors as extraordinary geniuses who are “not like us‚” to celebrate the creative skills and processes that are familiar and accessible to all people. Visitors of all ages will experience various playful habits of mind that underlie invention.

Guides for teachers, parents, and museum visitors are available for download:

Educators' manual (PDF document. File size: 2 MB. Download time: 10 min. @ 56K)
Family activities to do at home (PDF document. File size: 900K. Download time: 3 min. @ 56K)
Family activities en Espanol (PDF document. File size: 300K. Download time: less than 1 min. at 56K)
Exhibit gallery guide (PDF document. File size: 1.5 MB. Download time: 7 min. @ 56K)

Additional materials:

Visit the Invention at Play Web site.

Reinventing the Wheel: The Continuing Evolution of the Bicycle

A resource guide for teachers complements the Center's video, "Reinventing the Wheel," that explores the bicycle's unique history and technology. The velocipede achieved great popularity almost immediately when it was introduced more than a century ago. Countless inventors were inspired to make bicycles more efficient and comfortable, and bicycle innovation continues today. Cycling also sparked unexpected social changes, as various groups adopted bicycles for their own needs. See historic bicycles from the collections of the National Museum of American History and some amazing prototypes for the future. Program highlights include "high wheelers," hand-powered cycles for the disabled, mountain bikes, and even a bicycle that rides on snow.

Teachers' resource guide -Full color version (PDF document. File size: 9 MB. Download time: 30 min. @ 56K)

Teachers' resource guide - Black & white version (PDF document. File size: 1 MB. Download time: 3 min. @ 56K)

The Innovative Path (PDF document. File size: 6.3 MB. Download time: 8 min. @ 56k).

The development of good roads were an important part of the rise in popularity of cycling. This guide offers tours of innovative bike trails in the Washington, D.C., area, each with its own story of design challenges. Discover these stories as you ride along and consider future innovations that might take place. Take the innovative path.

Additional materials:

Format: DVD, 45 minutes, closed captioned, 2002

How to order: Available free of charge (however, a shipping fee of $2 in the U.S., $5 elsewhere, applies) from the International Technology Education Association. See page 17 of the ITEA Product Guide for details.

She's Got It! Women Inventors and Their Inspirations (teachers' guide)

Curious about women inventors? Designed for use in the classroom or at home, this video features women and girls who share a common creative spirit and have won invention prizes and awards. Many have appeared in the Lemelson Center's "Innovative Lives" series for middle school students.

Teacher's resource guide (PDF document. File size: 2.7 MB. Download time: 10 min. @ 56K)

Additional materials:

Format: DVD, 29 minutes, closed captioned, 2000

How to order: Available free of charge (however, a shipping fee of $2 in the U.S., $5 elsewhere, applies) from the International Technology Education Association. See page 17 of the ITEA Product Guide for details.

See also, “Exploring the History of Women Inventors” in the Innovative Lives section of this Web site.

Lewis Latimer: Renaissance Man, African American Inventor (teachers' guide)

Teachers' guide complementing the Brewery Troupe and the Smithsonian's Lemelson Center's video presentation of a puppet play that tells the story of African American inventor Lewis Latimer. Although he was a member of the Edison Pioneers, a group associated with the famous inventor Thomas Edison, Latimer is not a well known figure. The son of slaves, this self-educated man rose to become an inventor, poet, and activist. Through the unique artistry of puppet theater, Brad Brewer's "Crowtations" tell Latimer's exciting story to celebrate his 150th birthday.

Teacher's resource guide (PDF document. File size: 3 MB. Download time: approx. 11 min. @ 56K)

Additional materials:

Format: DVD, closed captioned, 30 minutes, 1999

How to order: Available free of charge (however, a shipping fee of $2 in the U.S., $5 elsewhere, applies) from the International Technology Education Association. See page 17 of the ITEA Product Guide for details. 

Learn more about Lewis Latimer in the Innovative Lives section of this Web site

Electric Guitar: Its Makers and Its Players (teachers' guide)

The Lemelson Center presents this 1996 video field trip in cooperation with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. Meet guitar maker Paul Reed Smith and guitar player G.E. Smith, who demonstrate their crafts and share stories about some of the people involved in developing and popularizing the electric guitar. Moderated by Bob Santelli, former director of education at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.

Teacher's resource guide (PDF document. File size: 820K. Download time: less than 1 min. @ 56K)

Additional materials:

Format: DVD, closed captioned, 30 minutes, 2004

How to order: Available free of charge (however, a shipping fee of $2 in the U.S., $5 elsewhere, applies) from the International Technology Education Association. See page 17 of the ITEA Product Guide for details.

Visit The Electric Guitar virtual exhibit on this Web site.

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