THOMAS EDISON: Inventor, Lecturer, and Prankster STUDY GUIDE

151 West 26th St.
New York, NY 10001
(212) 647-1100
www.theatreworksusa.org
presents
THOMAS EDISON:
Inventor, Lecturer, and Prankster
STUDY GUIDE
Thomas Edison was arguably one of the most influential people in all of history. He is variously
credited with leading the transition from the Age of Steam to the Age of Electricity, “inventing” the
Twentieth Century and developing the modern research laboratory, a cornerstone of corporate
structure. Seventy years after his death, he still holds the record for the greater number of US Patents
ever awarded to an individual – 1,093. It’s hard to imagine a world without his gifts of electric light,
recorded music and motion pictures. In Edison we find a true rags-to-riches story of a poor, selftaught boy who grew up to be the greatest inventor of his or any other age. In this assembly program
about Edison’s life and work, students are presented with real-life lessons first-hand by one of
America’s favorite sons.
THE FOUR BIG LESSONS OF EDISON
The life and inventions of Edison are presented in our presentation but an even greater effort has been made to present four lessons
from the inventor’s life and work that the individual child can use over and over again:
The Value of Hard Work – Edison’s most famous quote is “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.”
This comes from a man who was known to sleep and average of four hours a night, surviving on short cat-naps throughout the day. He
periodically worked for seventy-two hour stretches in order to perfect an invention. But unknown to most is his balancing ethic of
playing hard. Edison employees were treated to impromptu sing-alongs, poetry contests and satirical writing to help break the tension
of difficult work sessions. Edison was a great prankster. Each of his laboratories was equipped with a pipe organ for sing-alongs. Is
it chance his greatest inventions all focused on leisure?
The Value of Mistakes – Edison contended there were no such things as mistakes as long as you learned from them. This has become
a spirited chant in the presentation. The pressure placed on students to succeed often blinds them to what can be learned from the
attempt, perhaps making them fearful of the attempt itself. As Edison said, “If I find 10,000 ways something won’t work, I haven’t
failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is just one more step forward.” Childhood is filled with
mistakes; it’s the child’s duty to accept the responsibility of finding a lesson from their failings.
The Value of Viewing a Problem from a Different Angle – Many children are familiar with young Edison’s being kicked out of
school for asking too many questions. Education at the time was a matter of learning by rote. Anathema to a creative mind like
Edison’s. Luckily today students are presented with different methods of achieving a task, ref. Multiplication tables vs. lattices. By
looking at problems from a different angle, a child discovers the approach that parallels his talents. Another aspect of this lesson is
Edison’s ability to “turn a liability into an asset.” Historians acknowledge this as perhaps the secret to Edison’s success. How could a
man who was almost totally deaf perfect the phonograph?! Edison found that by biting the sounding horn of his phonograph and
“listening through his jawbone,” he could “hear” sound qualities undetectable to the human ear, improving the quality of his recordings.
Edison’s resourcefulness made him a success!
The Value of Enjoying One’s Work – Edison truly found his calling. He had found something that he loved to do. Something he
(and the world) found important. And something he could take pride in. (A modern HR person would say “Something you love.
Something you’re good at. And something they’ll pay you for.”) Edison’s work always evolved out of what he loved to do. He
loved inventing! As he said, “I always invent to obtain money to go on inventing.” From the age of seven on, Edison always had a
laboratory in which to experiment. His final patents were awarded posthumously because he was inventing until days before his
death!”
Looking at all this from a different angle: if you’re truly doing work you enjoy, the line between work and play blurs and mistakes are
just another part of the game!
A TIP FROM THE WIZARD
Edison prided himself as an inventor, not a scientist or a
discoverer. A scientist performs an experiment to see what will
happen. A discovery is often an unexpected outcome. An
inventor seeks to solve a specific problem or fulfill a specific
need!
“I find out what the world needs, then I go ahead and try to invent
it… None of my inventions came out totally by accident. They
came about by hard work.”
If your students are involved in creating their own inventions, one
of their most important steps will be defining the problem or need
they are trying to address. When the invention wheel seems out
of kilter, try redefining the problem or need first!
PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS OF THE BIG FOUR LESSONS
One of the big four lessons we try to convey with THOMAS EDISON: INVENTOR, LECTURER & PRANKSTER is the
ability to look at a problem from a whole new angle. Is there a problem in your classroom that the students can try to
rephrase from a new angle?
EXAMPLE:
Students are late entering class after recess.
OLD SOLUTION:
Just go faster!
NEW ANGLE: Student lockers are too crowded to accommodate extra winter clothing.
NEW SOLUTION:
Have students perform seasonal change-over several times a year.
Another lesson is enjoying your work. Explain to your students why you chose teaching as a career. What would they like
to be and why?
INVENTIONS CAN BE FUN!
RUBE GOLDBERG (1883-1970) was a very popular sports and editorial cartoonist in the first half of the last century.
His most famous creations were intricate inventions to accomplish simple tasks. His inventions were never practical,
efficient or plausible but they were always a lot of fun. Modern college students still compete in “Goldberg Contests” to
see who can invent the silliest and most complicated way to crack an egg!
SELF-OPERATING NAPKIN
As you raise spoon of soup (A) to your mouth it
pulls the string (B), thereby jerking ladle (C)
which throws cracker (D) past parrot (E).
Parrot jumps after cracker and perch (F) tilts,
upsetting seeds (G) into pail (H). Extra weight
in pail pulls cord (I) which opens and lights
automatic cigar lighter (J), setting off skyrocket (K) which causes sickle (L) to cut string
(M) and allow pendulum with attached napkin
to swing back and forth thereby wiping off your
chin.
Have your class develop a silly invention to accomplish a simple task. A game many students enjoy is creating a machine
using body movements of the whole class (Hint: start with a task and work backwards.)
JUST SOME OF THOMAS EDISON’S 1,093 INVENTIONS
Telegraph innovations
Carbon transmitter
Dynamo generators
Magnetic ore separator
Printing telegraph
(ie: Stock-ticker)
Light bulb
Vacuum pumps
Mining equipment
Light switches
Electric meters
Motion picture camera
Light sockets
Fluoroscope
Miner’s lamps
Electric meters
Fluorescent lamp
Storage battery
Insulated wire
Electric railway
Synthetic carbolic acid
Mimeograph machine
Phonograph
Talking dolls
WHAT IF…?
Imagine how many little ways the world would be different if Edison hadn’t invented recorded sound with his
phonograph: no answering machines. None of your students would know what Louis Armstrong, The Beatles,
or Martin Luther King sounded like. We’d still be watching silent movies. No muzak in elevators. By the time
Britney Spears became a superstar she’d be middle-aged.
Ask your students to consider how the world would be different if there was no Light Bulb. How would this
affect our daily routines? Architecture (buildings would be smaller to light interior rooms.)? All the machines
that use bulbs – televisions, projectors, car headlights, refrigerators, light houses, airport runways, cameras, EasyBake ovens, Christmas trees, and Menorahs.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
What do you think was the greatest invention ever invented and why? Was it the greatest invention for the whole
world or just for you? Possibility: Gutenberg’s Printing Press. When the History Channel was choosing its
most important of the millennium they chose Guttenberg. His printing press made it possible to disperse other’s
knowledge and inventions throughout the world (LIFE Magazine chose Thomas Edison!)
WHAT IF…?
How might your everyday life be affected if a simple invention like the wheel had never been invented? Native
American tribes lived for thousands of years without any knowledge of the wheel and yet many tribes were
nomadic!
ARE YOU AN INVENTOR?
An invention doesn’t have to be a machine! Any new solution to a problem is an invention. Can you think of a
problem that you’ve solved in a new way recently?
THE TIME LINE
Use the time line (following page) to discuss with your students what life was like before and after Edison’s life.
Why do you think Edison is sometimes called “The Man Who Invented the 20th Century?”
ANCILLARY WORKSHEETS are attached for your class.
K-2 Worksheets consist of puzzles and illustration to remind the students of Edison’s inventions and philosophy. Answers to the
puzzles are included somewhere in the worksheet.
3-5 Worksheets include exercises designed to help the students apply the presented lessons to their own life. There are very few
right or wrong answers to these pages. Imagination is encouraged. The students’ responses provide springboards for classroom
sharing discussion.
FOR FURTHER READING
AGES 4-8 There are lots of introductory books on Edison at your Public Library
Thomas Edison (Live and Times) by Jane Shuter; Heinemann Library; ISBN: 157522305; (October 2000).
Thomas Alva Edison: Young Inventor (Easy Biographies) by Louis Sabin, George Ulrich (Illustrator); Troll Communications; ISBN:
0893758426; (January 1990).
AGES 9 – 12
Thomas Edison: The Great American Inventor (Barron Solution Series) by Louise Egan, Louise Betts; Barrons Juveniles; ISBN:
081203922X; (November 1987).
Thomas A. Edison: Young Inventor (Childhood of Famous Americans Series) by Sue Guthridge, Wallace Wook (illustrator); Aladdin
Paperbacks; ISBN: 0020418507; (May 1988).
The Story of Thomas Alva Edison (Landmark Books) by Margaret Cousins; Random House (Juv); ISBN: 0394848837; Reissue
edition (March 1997).
A Picture of Thomas Alva Edison (Picture Book Biography) by David A. Adler, etc al; Holiday House; ISBN: 0823414140; (April
1999).
The Thomas Edison Book of Easy and Incredible Experiments by James G. Cook, Thomas Alva Edison Foundation (Contributor);
John Wiley & Sons; ISBN: 0471620904; (Jukly 22, 1988).
GROWN-UPS
At Work with Thomas Edison: 10 Business Lessons from America’s Greatest Innovator by Blaine McCormick, John P. Keegan;
Entrepreneur Media Inc.; ISBN: 1891984357; (November 2001).
Edison: A Life of Invention by Paul Israel; John Wiley & Sons; ISBN: 0471529427; (October 1998).
Edison: Inventing the Century by Neil Baldwin; University of Chicago Press (Trd.); ISBN: 0226035719; (April 2001).
FUN WEB SITES
www.nps.gov/edis/home.htm
www.tomedison.org
www.thomasedison.com
http://americanhistory.si.edu/edison/index.htm
Edison National Historic Site
Edison birthplace museum
Thomas Edison homepage
The films Young Tom Edison with Mickey Rooney and Edison the Man with Spencer Tracy, while not very accurate historically, are
very entertaining!
EDISON FUN
Just Some of
Thomas Edison’s
1,093 Inventions:
T
homas Alva Edison, “The Wizard of Menlo Park,” recently paid
a visit to your school. Mr. Edison is known as the world’s
greatest inventor. He holds the record for US patented
inventions at 1,093. Mr. Edison told the students about his life of
inventing and what his most famous inventions had taught him.
Telegraph innovations
Printing telegraph (i.e. stock
ticker)
Mimeograph machine
Phonograph
Talking dolls
Telephone improvements
“Hello!”
Light bulb
Light switches
Insulated wire
Mr. Edison recalled for his listeners his childhood in
Michigan working on trains as a “candy butcher,” or newsboy,
traveling the country as a “tramp” telegrapher and establishing
himself as an inventor. His “rags-to-riches” story is a shining
example of the American Dream. “Hard work” is what Mr.
Edison credits for his success.
The inventor spent most of his adult life in nearby West
Orange, NJ. There he built his second “invention factory.”
Inventions such as the alkaline battery and the motion picture
camera were developed there. Many students were surprised to
learn that the very first movies were filmed in northern New
Jersey!
Dynamo generators
Vacuum pumps
Electric meters
Electric railway
Magnetic ore separator
Mining equipment
Motion picture camera
Storage battery
Wax paper
Crossword answers
Thomas Edison:
Inventor, Lecturer
& Prankster
An historic
Presentation from
Patrick Garner’s
History’s Alive!
Presented by
151 West 26th Street
New York, NY 10001
(212) 647-1100
www.TWUSA.org
A Tramp Telegrapher’s Morse Code
I roamed the Midwest as tramp telegrapher for several years.
This is the actual code that we used to send messages to other telegraphers!
A
. _
H
. . . .
O
_ _ _
U
. . _
B
_ . . .
I
. .
P
. _ _ .
V
. . . _
C
_ . _ .
J
. _ _ _
Q
_ _ . _
W
. _ _
D
_ . .
K
_ . _
R
. _ .
X
_ . . _
E
.
L
. _ . .
S
. . .
Y
_ . _ _
F
. . _ .
M
_ _
T
_
Z
_ _ . .
G
_ _ .
N
_ .
Use Morse Code to find out the first words ever to be recorded on a phonograph!
Write the alphabet letter under its Morse Code symbol
_ _
____
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____
. _ .
____
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____
_ . _ _
____
. _ . .
____
. .
____
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____
. . . .
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_
____
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_
____
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Grand Trunk Railway
Detroit Port Huron Line
. _
____
_ . .
____
. _ . .
____
.
____
_ . . .
____ !
The Amazing Incandescent Lamp (or The Light Bulb)
The light bulb may have been
my most important invention.
It changed the whole world!
NAME THREE WAYS TO USE LIGHT BULBS
1.
2.
3.
When people first saw my light bulb
they gave me the name
“The Wizard of Menlo Park!”
For example: A car’s headlights, movie projectors, E-Z Bake ovens!
“Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration!”
This is probably the most famous thing I ever said. But what does it mean?
INSPIRATION = AN IDEA
PERSPIRATION = SWEAT
PERCENT MEANS “HOW MANY OUT OF 100 PARTS”
GENIUS =
+
So, what that saying means is:
“It takes a lot more than just an idea to be a genius.
It takes a lot of hard work!”
THE WONDERFUL P HONOGRAPH (our first sound recorder)
“Of all my inventions,
I liked the phonograph best.
Life’s most soothing things
are sweet music
and a child’s goodnight.”
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE TIMES TO LISTEN TO MUSIC?
An Edison Crossword Puzzle!
Don’t be afraid
to ask for help!
The Clues
ACROSS
DOWN
3. Where were the first movies made?
1. I am the world’s greatest _________________.
4. What lit city homes before electric light bulbs?
2. I worked as a “_____________ telegrapher” for several years.
6. What was my favorite invention?
5. What’s my middle name?
8. I was called “The _____________ of Menlo Park.”
6. I have more of these than anyone else in the world!
10. I was a “candy butcher” on a ___________________.
7. __________ = 1 percent inspiration + 99 percent perspiration.
12. It’s not a ________________, as long as you learn from it!
8. __________ hard and play hard!
13. What’s my last name?
9. I put small phonographs into talking __________.
11. Telegraphers talk by using Morse __________.
Possible Answers
ALVA
GAS
MISTAKE
TRAIN
CODE
GENIUS
PATENTS
TRAMP
DOLLS
INVENTOR
PHONOGRAPH
WIZARD
EDISON
NEW JERSEY
THOMAS
WORK
151 West 26th Street
New York, NY, 10001
212.647.1100
www.TWUSA.org
Patrick Garner’s HISTORY’S ALIVE presents
BENJAMIN FRANKLIN:
America’s First Citizen
STUDY GUIDE
Thank you very much for inviting me to perform for your students. I formed
HISTORY’S ALIVE! in an attempt to present history in an exciting, interesting
context in which your students don’t merely learn history, but learn from history.
It’s my hope that they will leave the assembly program with life and learning tools
they can use that very day. And the fact that those “life lessons” propelled these
ordinary people into the pages of history shows that they do indeed work!
In BENJAMIN FRANKLIN: AMERICA’S FIRST CITIZEN, the nation’s
favorite founding father – the man who tamed lightning and conquered crowns –
comes to life to demonstrate how a life of self-discipline, inquiry, public service
and a genuine love of life led to international fame and the gratitude of a nation.
Volunteers Needed!
For most of my shows, the volunteers selected are a little specific as to size and
such. For BENJAMIN FRANKLIN: America’s First Citizen , I need a boy and
a girl to play all the male and female parts of the story. These volunteers are very
important to this program as a lot of the show rests on them acting out the story I
tell. So, your top notch students, the ones you would rely on for such an important
task. During the show I’ll also be pulling about six more boys and girls for a
Fireman’s Bucket Brigade Race.
I’d appreciate it if you didn’t give me your class clowns. As a reformed class clown
myself, I know what a handful we can be. Pick some kids who will take part but not
take over. I’m sure, as teachers, you know exactly the type of children I’m hoping
for.
There will be absolutely nothing embarrassing for them to do. Nor will any jokes be
directed at them. They don’t need to come early. Just point them out to me as you
come in. Don’t tell the kids beforehand. I only need two main kids for the whole
show so I may have filled the slots before you arrive.
THANK Y OU VERY MUC H.
I HOPE Y OU E NJOY T HE S HOW !
THE PHILADELPHIA GAZETTE
Printed by B. FRANKLIN, Postmaster
At the New-Printing-Office, near the Market
OWNER BENJ. FRANKLIN UNDERTAKES TOUR
OF COUNTRY’S YOUNGEST PATRIOTS
Perhaps our foremost forefather has undertaken a tour
of the country he had such a
huge hand in forming.
Benjamin Franklin, printer,
has launched a series of talks
on his life and the lessons it
might hold for today’s young
Americans.
“First and foremost,” Franklin
counsels, “Never give up!”
Indeed
it
may
be
Franklin’s
perseverance that most impresses his
young audiences. Born the last son of a
soap-maker, Franklin grew to be the
most famous American of his time. His
name was known throughout
the world ...as it is to this day!
Through a disciplined system of
self-improvement, he bettered
himself at every turn. “You
have to believe in yourself!”
And when he became the
success about which he had
always dreamed, he continued
to give of himself...to his city, to
his country, to the world!
Even after his departure, Franklin
continues to give to mankind as he serves
as an inspiration to all who would
become all that they can be!
A BRIEF FRANKLIN TIMELINE
1706
1717
1718
1723
1727
1728
1731
January 17, Franklin born in Boston,
tenth son of Josiah & Abiah Franklin
Invents swim fins for his hands and
feet
Apprenticed to brother James as
printer
Runs away from apprenticeship, goes
to New York and then to
Philadelphia where he works as a
printer
Forms Junto, a society who meet for
“Self-improvement, study, mutual aid
and conviviality.”
Starts own printshop and takes
Deborah Read as his wife
Forms first Subscription Library
1732
1736
1737
1741
1749
1752
1774
1776
1784
1787
1790
1st POOR RICHARD’S
ALMANACK
Organizes the Union Fire Company
Appointed Postmaster of
Philadelphia
Invents Franklin Stove
Starts University of Pennsylvania
Conducts kite experiment
Humiliated in London’s Privy
Council
Helps write and signs Declaration of
Independence
Invents Bifocal Spectacles
Signs Constitution
Dies in Philadelphia at age of 84
FRANKLIN’S INVENTIONS
BIFOCALS
By combining lenses of
different shapes and
strengths within a single
frame. Ben managed to
eliminate the need to
change reading glasses for
distance glasses and vice
versa.
GLASS ARMONICA
Possibly Ben’s favorite.
Bowls of differing size are
touched by moistened
fingers to produce musical
notes. Beethoven and
Mozart composed music for
this instrument.
LIGHTNING RODS
Possibly Ben’s most
important. Countless lives
and property were saved by
these metal rods that
attracted lightning strikes
that were safely carried to
the ground.
FRANKLIN STOVE
Air baffles throughout the
stove channel heat into a
room making it much more
fuel efficient. Franklin never
obtained a patent for his
stove. He gave the plans
away to anyone.
THE POLITICAL
CARTOON
These were published in his
newspaper the Philadelphia
Gazette. Here Ben warns the
American colonies to join in
the coming Revolutionary War
SWIM FINS
Although his were made from
wood, young Ben managed
to increase his swimming
speed by inventing paddles
for his feet and hands!
While very few people swam
at that time, Ben enjoyed
swimming his whole life.
...AND A FRANKLIN DISCOVERY!
On one of his early Atlantic Ocean crossings, Ben
measured the water temperature throughout the trip
and wound up discovering the Gulf Stream! This
ocean current allows sailors to shorten their trips.
FACT OR FICTION?
Did Ben Franklin actually fly a kite in a
thunderstorm to discover electricity?
Probably. The source for the story is Ben’s own
autobiography. That book is surprisingly accurate in all
other matters. So it’s doubtful Ben would have made
the story up. Many other scientists were killed
performing similar experiments! However, Ben didn’t
“discover” electricity (the ancient Greeks did that).
Ben discovered that lightning was a form of electricity!
FRANKLIN’S MAGIC SQU ARES!
You think Sodoku is tough?
When Ben was the official printer for
the government of the Pennsylvania
Colony, he had to sit through long,
boring meetings. To pass the time he
made up “magic squares.” Magic
squares place numbers on a grid so
that the sums of the columns,
diagonals and rows are all equal.
34 in the example below, and 260 in
the example to the right.
WORDS OF WISDOM
FROM POOR RICHARD
For many years Ben published one of early America’s favorite books, Poor
Richard’s Almanac. Like most other almanacs, it was filled with recipes, first aid
tips, calendars, tidal tables, horoscopes, eclipse schedules, farming advice and
general what-not. What set Ben’s apart were the clever sayings he peppered
throughout, all attributed to the fictional “Poor Richard.”
•
•
•
•
•
“Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise!”
“God helps those that help themselves!”
“A penny saved is a penny earned!”
“Haste makes waste!”
“He that lies down with dogs, wakes up with fleas!”
DID YOU KNOW…
Ben Franklin is one of only two
non-presidents to be honored
on US currency. Can you name the
other one?
Answer: Alexander Hamilton, 1st Secretary of the Treasury, on the $10 bill
HELP BEN UNTANGLE HIS KITE
Ben turned his back for a second while his son William minded the kite. A gust of
strong wind made a mess of their kite string. Help Ben and William find their way
from the kite string spool to their kite. Better hurry before the next lightning
strike!
FURTHER READING ON BENJAMIN FRANKLIN
For our Youngest Readers:
•
The Remarkable Benjamin Franklin by Cheryl Harness; National Geographic Children’s
Books; Reprint edition (September 23, 2008)
•
Time for Kids: Benjamin Franklin: A Man of Many Talents by the Editors of Time for Kids;
HarperCollins (July 26, 2005)
For our Mid-Level Readers:
•
Benjamin Franklin (DK Biography) by Stephen Krensky; DK CHILDREN (December 17,
2007)
•
Ben & Me: An Astonishing Life of Benjamin Franklin by His Good Mouse Amos by Robert
Lawson; Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (April 30, 1988)
For Adult Readers:
•
The First American: The Life & Times of Benjamin Franklin by H.W. Brands; Anchor (March
12, 2002)
•
Benjamin Franklin: An American Life by Walter Isaacson; Simon & Schuster (May 4, 2004)
For the Serious Franklin Reader:
•
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin; various editions.
FEEDBACK
I am constantly changing my shows to accommodate the needs and concerns of you, the teachers.
Your feedback, negative and positive, is always appreciated. There’s no reason for me to come into
your schools if I’m not helping you in our common goal of producing better students. Every little
bit of feedback helps me develop better shows, so I hope you’ll do me the great favor of providing
your thoughts on Benjamin Franklin: America’s First Citizen.
(When I first started with my Thomas Edison show, the phonograph would heckle a poetry reading
Edison by shouting, “Shut up!” After two years a teacher pointed out that they didn’t tolerate that
type of language in their school. In trying to find a replacement phrase, I found out that “Put a
sock in it” was actually how people muffled their phonographs... by putting a sock in them! Now
my show not only complies with school policy: it’s historically accurate! )
So if you’d like to send along any feedback please contact me
by email [email protected]
or by phone 973-420-5268.
THANKS AGAIN!
151 West 26th Street
New York, NY, 10001
212.647.1100
www.TWUSA.org
Patrick Garner’s HISTORY’S ALIVE! presents
THE WRIGHT BROTHERS
(& Sister!)
STUDY GUIDE
Thank you very much for inviting me in to perform for your students. I formed HISTORY’S ALIVE!
In an attempt to present history in an exciting, interesting venue where your children don’t merely
learn history but learn from history. It’s my hope that they will leave the assembly program with
life and learning tools they can use that very day. And the fact that those “life lessons” propelled
these ordinary people into the pages of history shows that they do indeed work!
With THE WRIGHT BROTHERS (& SISTER!), we learn how three people solved the riddle of
the ages—-man-powered flight. And they did so with tools you teach your kids. Their efforts fall
under several banners: logic, problem-solving, The Scientific Method, cause-and-effect, etc. I
mention the Scientific Method in the show, but please use whatever you’re currently introducing
in your classroom.
The most important themes I try to introduce to your charges are:
•
•
•
•
•
Use all your available sources for information
Use everything you know
Look for solutions everywhere
Define your problem before trying to solve it
And, of course, think outside the box!
VOLUNTEERS NEEDED!
If this is the only part of the Teacher’s Guide you read… READ THIS!!!
During the course of the show I will be using two of your students to portray Orville and Katherine Wright. I need your
help in selecting them! Would you please confab with your fellow teachers and select a boy and a girl from your
students. General guidelines: Pick kids who will take part but not take over. Good-natured kids. (Please don’t give me
your class clowns. As a reformed class clown, I know how difficult we can be.)
ORVILLE:
A slightly built boy from your lower grades. (He’ll sit on a folding table that easily holds my weight
but why take chances?)
KATHERINE: A good reader from your upper grades.
Tell the two volunteers they’ll be acting as my assistants in the show. There will be absolutely nothing embarrassing for
them to do. Nor will any jokes be directed at them. A few days ahead of the show, ask if they can wear white shirts on
the performance day (if not, not a big problem). And if they could come to the performance space about ten minute
early, I tell them what we’re going to do.
THANK YOU VERY MUCH.
I HOPE YOU ENJOY THE SHOW!
MEET THE WRIGHT FAMILY
Wilbur, Orville & Katherine, along with their father Milton, were a very close-knit family.
Milton was a bishop of the United Brethren Church. The love of learning the parents
instilled in them taught them how to research, discuss and attack any problems. The family
library carried many tomes that contradicted Milton’s own teachings but he thought all sides
of an argument should be explored.
Wilbur was the go-getter of the family. Taciturn and studious, he was destined for college
when Mother Susan’s slow death to consumption, a serious athletic accident and the
nursing of Orville through a bout of typhoid fever, made college all
but impossible.
Orville was the out-going practical joker. He skipped college in order to join Wilbur in his
new printing business. First brother to fly.
Katherine, the forgotten Wright, was the only child who attended college. She had a
promising teaching career in motion when she returned home to help her brothers run their
business and home during the invention of the airplane.
THE WRIGHT BUSINESS
You and your students may know that the Wrights ran a bicycle shop before inventing the
airplane. But that wasn’t their first business. They started as printers but were unable to
purchase an expensive printing press. Instead they found a broken press and, using the
mechanical aptitude their mother had taught them, repaired it. Business flourished.
Among their many projects was The Dayton Tattler for Dayton’s African American
community. It was written by Paul Laurence Dunbar (see “Dayton, Ohio”).
The Wrights left printing to subordinates while they joined America’s latest fad, bicycling.
At first they sold bicycles. Then again using their mechanical skills began manufacturing.
Their work on bicycles gave them unique insights to mechanics and motion.
The Wrights pursued manufacturing airplanes until Wilbur’s untimely death in 1912.
Shortly after his death, Orville accumulated all existing Wright Brothers stock, settled all
out-standing lawsuits and sold everything to their biggest competitor, Glenn Curtis. Orville
and Katherine had a falling out when she married late in her life. There was rumored to be
a secret pact between the three Wrights to never marry. They made a death-bed
reconciliation when she passed in 1929 Orville enjoyed a retirement of tinkering and
celebrity to the ripe age of 77. He passed in 1948 while tinkering with a doorbell.
THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD
In the space of just over four years, the Wright Brother solved a problem that had been
vexing man for thousands of years—man-powered flight. Their approach to the problem was
very methodical. They researched all available data on previous experiments. They used all
of the resources at their disposal. They used their own experiences. And when problems
arose they attacked them using the Scientific Method:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
State the Problem
Research
Hypothesis
Test & Experiment
Record Data
Check Hypothesis
Conclusions
Repeat if needed
PRECURSORS & RIVALS TO THE WRIGHTS
Here are a few scientists who explored man-powered flight before the Wrights. There’s
plenty of information on them on the web.
Leonardo DaVinci
Conceived the “ornithopter.” Completely impractical to
fly a man but a wind-up flying machine still
manufactured today.
Alphonse Penaud
One of the first theorists on flight. Designed the Wright
Bat flying toy that Orville credited as the inspiration of
their interest in flight.
Otto Lilienthal
Glider inventor and developer of wing shape vs. lift
formula. His death in a crash spurred the Wrights on.
Dying words: “Sacrifices must be made.”
Octave Chanute
Contemporary and sponsor. Proposed bi-wing as most
stable type of glider.
Samuel Pierpont Langley
President of Smithsonian Institute. Major competition.
Got government funding for steam-powered aerodrome
which crashes twice just before Wright success.
Associates claimed he was first flyer for over forty years.
Glenn Curtis
Huge innovator immediately after Wrights. Major
manufacturing competitor. Developer of ailerons which
replace wing-warping.
DAYTON, OHIO
Dayton, Ohio was quite an important town around the turn of the last century. The Wright
Brothers (& Sister!) may be their most famous citizens but by no means the only ones.
Paul Laurence Dunbar was in the same high school class as Orville Wright. The Wright
printing business helped Dunbar produce a newspaper for African Americans. Although that
paper soon folded, Dunbar soon achieved international fame as a poet. His first collection
was published by the Wrights. He was the most published African American author in the
world until the 1950s.
The International Cash Register Company was headquartered in Dayton. Their cash
registers, adding machines, etc. made them the IBM of the early 1900s!
SUMMARY OF THE SUMMERS AT KITTYHAWK
1900
The Wrights test their theory of wing-warping by flying their glider as a
large kite. Only after verifying their theory and proving the glider’s airworthiness did they attempt to pilot the vehicle, always tethered to the
ground.
1901
Thinking “bigger is better” they increase the size of their glider and are
surprised when it will not fly with any measurable control.. This second
glider crashes repeatedly. Tempting fate they unsuccessfully try a manned
flight. During the winter and spring they test Lillienthal Formula for wing
lift and discover its errors.
1902
With their new understanding of wing lift they construct a new glider which
flies beautifully. They make many manned glides, breaking record after
record. All they need is an engine. No automaker will reply to the requests
for a light engine to power their airplane. They make their own.
1903
After many delays caused by weather, the Wrights assemble their airplane
named “The Flyer.” They had manufactured their own engine, propellers
and drive shafts. The drive shafts prove to be trouble, warping and
cracking. Orville returns to Dayton. He returns with new shafts. After a
failed attempt by Wilbur on Monday December 14 (they never worked on
Sunday), Orville makes the first successful engine-powered flight on
Thursday December 17, 1903. It lasted just twelve seconds and covered
120 feet!
TIMELINE
RESOURCES
Children’s Books on Wright Brothers
THE WRIGHT BROTHERS FOR KIDS by Mary Kay Carson
AIRBORNE by Mary Collins
FIRST TO FLY by Peter Busby
Adult books on Wright Brothers
THE BISHOP’S BOYS by Tom D. Crouch
Really Cool Web Sites with more information and demonstrations:
www.fiddlersgreen.net/AC/aircraft/Wright-Glider/glider.php
(Free paper model of Wright Glider!)
www.first-to-fly.com
www.nasm.si.edu/wrightbrothers (Air & Space Museum)
www.amazingpapersirplanes.com
FEEDBACK
I am constantly changing my shows to accommodate the needs and concerns of you, the
teachers. Your feedback, negative and positive, is always appreciated. There’s no reason for
me to come into your schools if I’m not helping you in our common goal of producing better
students. Every little bit of feedback helps me develop better shows, so I hope you’ll do me
the great favor of providing your thoughts on The Wright Brothers (& Sister!).
(When I first started with my Thomas Edison show, the phonograph would heckle a poetry
reading Edison by shouting, “Shut up!” After two years a teacher pointed out that they
didn’t tolerate that type of language in their school. In trying to find a replacement phrase,
I found out that “Put a sock in it” was actually how people muffled their phonographs... by
putting a sock in them! Now my show not only complies with school policy: it’s historically
accurate! )
So if you’d like to send along any feedback please contact me
by email [email protected]
or by phone 973-420-5268.
THANKS AGAIN!
151 West 26th Street
New York, NY, 10001
212.647.1100
www.TWUSA.org
Patrick Garner’s HISTORY’S ALIVE presents
AMERICAN TALL TALES
STUDY GUIDE
Thank you very much for inviting me to perform for your students. I formed
HISTORY’S ALIVE! in an attempt to present history in an exciting, interesting
context in which your students don’t merely learn history, but learn from history.
It’s my hope that they will leave the assembly program with life and learning tools
they can use that very day. And the fact that those “life lessons” propelled these
ordinary people into the pages of history shows that they do indeed work!
Okay, so Tall Tale characters weren’t real people… or were they? Some were
definitely based on real people. And what can children learn from “larger-thanlife” fictional characters? Remember “American ingenuity?” And not just nativeborn Americans... Many of these characters were foreign-born! How about
“overcoming impossible obstacles?” And all these folks knew how to enjoy
themselves!
The most important themes I try to introduce to your charges are:
•
•
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Do your best with whatever life has given you.
Don’t accept limitations on what you can achieve.
Look for unique solutions to your problems.
Have fun doing your very best.
You can change the world!
VOLUNTEERS NEEDED!
IF THIS IS THE ONLY PART OF THE TEACHERS GUIDE YOU READ... READ THIS!!!
For most of my shows, the volunteers selected are a little specific as to size and such. For
“American Tall Tales,” I just need two boys to play Paul Bunyan and Pecos Bill, and two girls to
play Annie Christmas and Bess Coll. Never heard of some of them? No problem: you will.
I’d appreciate it if you didn’t give me your class clowns. As a reformed class clown myself, I know
what a handful we can be. Pick some kids who will take part but not take over. I’m sure, as
teachers, you know exactly the type of children I’m hoping for.
There will be absolutely nothing embarrassing for them to do. Nor will any jokes be directed at
them. They don’t need to come early. Just point them out to me as you come in. Don’t tell the
kids beforehand. I only need four for the whole show so I may have filled the slots before you
arrive.
THANK YOU VERY MUCH.
I HOPE YOU ENJOY THE SHOW!
IMMIGRATION & WESTWARD MOVEMENT
In the show, it is pointed out that the lack of modern electronic media (i.e.
television, movies, etc.), lack of books, and the illiteracy of the general public led
to a great oral tradition. Stories were literally told “around the campfire,”
especially as America continued to expand westward. An influx of immigrants
brought together story elements from many lands, as well as a dash of national
pride. Tales had already become more secular with the Protestant Reformation,
and this was further reinforced by America’s “separation of Church & State.”
WHOPPERS
Just as a fish you caught grows bigger and bigger with each retelling (so that the
minnow you caught in May becomes a whale by December), the stories around the
campfires grew. And among friends, the exaggeration became a competition.
With tongue firmly planted in cheek, folks vied to see who could tell the biggest
whopper. I stress that these whoppers were never meant to deceive but to
entertain. You weren’t supposed to believe them. You were meant to enjoy them!
In some parts of the country annual lying contests are held. (No teacher has yet
told me that the show has led to a rash of lying in their classroom. PLEASE let me
know if this ever happens!)
THE UNOFFICIAL RULES OF WHOPPERS
•
•
•
•
Of course, the bigger and more nonsensical, the better.
An unwarranted preciseness lends credibility.
Unusual units of measurements keep it interesting.
If you’re ever questioned about the veracity of your story,
you can always claim you didn’t see it but you know
someone who did.
WHY SO FEW WOMEN CHARACTERS?
In researching this show, I saw very early on that there was a dearth of female
characters in American folklore. Luckily I found Cut from the Same Cloth by
Robert D. San Souci. His preface explains that there were quite few women
characters but storytellers were predominately male.
So you know what
eventually happened; as I tell the kids, history isn’t always fair. But San Souci’s
book does a wonderful job bringing together these women characters from many
diverse cultures.
CHARACTERISTICS
Tall Tale characters share many common traits:
•
Their exploits are always larger than life.
Everything is larger-than-life for a Tall Tale character. Paul Bunyan
carried an axe that looked as if it had been made by hammering two
steam locomotives together!
•
When faced with problems, they always find a unique way to
solve them.
Paul Bunyan straightens out a river by freezing its mouth with captured blizzards and fastening Babe the Blue Ox to it with a chain!
•
They face opposition from the status q uo.
In every story I’ve read someone is telling the hero he/she can’t do
what they’re attempting. Bess Coll vs. the Englishman, Annie
Christmas vs. the steamboat captain.
•
The problems they face are extraordina ry as the character.
Paul Bunyan has to clear the entire Dakota Territory in one year!
Annie Christmas is the only person who can paddle her raft back up
the Mississippi!
•
The characters u se everyday language.
Language and exaggeration are one of the most fun parts of Tall Tales.
Whoppers run wild:
“Great horney-toads! Those were good pancakes. I’ve spent the last
six months eating nothing’ but beans!”
“Aw, you’re fulla soup!”
“No. Now I’m fulla pancakes!”
ADVERTISING
The real widespread popularity of some Tall Tales began at the beginning of the
1900s with the advent of advertising. Although the stories had been around for
years, the characters became ingrained in our minds when manufacturers chose
them to be their mascots. Paul Bunyan was celected to promote a lumber mill
early in the last century.
Pecos Bill’s history may be a little shorter! He was introduced in the 1920s, a
time when there were still a lot of cowboys out west. He was later made the
fictional spokesman for a brand of beef jerky.
I think some of you may remember Brer Rabbit molasses? Disney’s movie Song of
the South brought Uncle Remus’s Brer Rabbit and Brer Fox characters to life for
children of the 1940s. And Disney’s efforts in early television reintroduced
Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett to a whole new generation of children.
JOHNNY APPLESEED
Perhaps you’d like to spend a little more time exploring Tall Tales with your class. Johnny
Appleseed has always been a favorite of mine. As you may already know, Johnny Appleseed is
one of the Tall Tale characters who actually lived! (Others include Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett,
and in many respects, young Washington & Lincoln.)
Young John Chapman entered the newly opened Ohio Territory around 1798. The picture
history paints of him entering with two bags of apple seeds is pretty much true. But here is
where history and Tall Tales tell a different story. Chapman did not travel through the Midwest
scattering seeds willy-nilly. He searched for lands around likely sites for future settlements,
generally near well-traveled rivers. He would then find a clearing, plant his seeds, erect a
makeshift fence of scrub to mark the area, and then move on to another area. He would return
to these nurseries several times throughout the year to tend to his seedlings. After about five
years the apples were ready to be distributed to the arriving settlers.
But John Chapman did not give the young trees away simply because he loved apples: he was
an entrepreneur. Settlers were entitled to a certain amount of cheap land but only under
certain provisions to discourage land speculators. For instance, settlers were required to have
fifty fruit trees on their property within two years. Guess who was there to sell them their apple
trees?
The apple was a wonder crop for American settlers! The last fruits of the fall would stay fresh
in a root cellar until spring. Dried apples were used all winter long. Apple cider, apple butter
and applejack were staples. Cider vinegar not only flavored food but also pickled other crops.
Apples could be shipped long distances, too.
Other parts of the Johnny Appleseed mythos are entirely true. He roamed throughout what is
now Ohio and Indiana. He was known to never wear shoes. Legend says a rattlesnake was
unable to bite his foot due to his toughened skin. Only during the worst winter weather did he
accept shelter from his hosts. As a lover of all animals, he was a strict vegetarian. He wouldn’t
even shoo a mosquito lest he hurt one of God’s creatures.
Johnny traveled through lands that had not yet seen settlers, and he became a great friend of
the Native Americans. Their trust in him allowed him to warn settlers of an imminent attack by
the British in the War of 1812.
An interesting side note:he became a member of the Swedenborg church, distributing their
materials to his customers. Their main tenets were an inquiry and an acceptance of others’
beliefs. (I know we’re touchy about religion in schools, but how can you find fault with those
precepts?)
JOHNNY APPLESEED ACTIVITIES
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•
•
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•
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Cut an apple crossways to discover the apple’s hidden star!
Have a tasting of the different types of apples available at your store.
Research which types are best for pies, cider, applesauce.
How are the trees with the best fruit propagated? Not by seeds but by
grafting!
Apple arts & crafts.
Find an orchard near you for a field trip.
For more ideas, visit www.allaboutapples.com
OTHER TALL TALE CHARACTERS
There are many more characters that people American Tall Tales. In fact there’s a
lot more to be discovered about the four we were able to cover in the presentation.
Here’s a partial list to which I’m sure you can add a few of your own:
• SLUE-FOOT SUE
• SWAMP ANGEL
• MIKE FINK & SAL FINK
• FEBOLD FEBOLDSON
• DAVY CROCKETT
• ALFRED BULLTOP
• DANIEL BOONE
STORMALONG: THE JERSEY
• JOHN HENRY
DEVIL!
• CASEY JONES
• SALLY ANN THUNDER ANN
• ANNIE OAKLEY (NJ native!)
WHIRLWIND CROCKETT
• JOE MAGARAC
UNCLE SAM
Uncle Sam became an icon for the United States of America as far back as the
War of 1812. Origins are uncertain but the prevailing theory is that he was
modeled after a beef supplier known for sending quality meats to troops, a rarity
at the time. The barrels of salted meat were stamped U.S. to label them for army
distribution. The soldiers joked that U.S. stood for “Uncle Sam.”
His image varied until the late 1800s when political cartoonist Thomas Nast gave
him his familiar stars & stripes outfit and white hair & goatee. These cartoons
had a tremendous impact on a largely illiterate public: many crooked politicians
were forced out of office due to public outcries. Nash’s caricatures were so biting
that they inspired the word “nasty.”
SUPERHEROES
Are superheroes our modern-day Tall Tales characters? In movies, television and
comic books, their adventures are always larger than life. Early on, superheroes
appeared in fictional cities like Metropolis and Gotham City, but more and more
are set in real settings like New York City.
Superheroes always seem to have unique occupations: Superman = reporter Clark
Kent, Spiderman = student photographer Peter Parker, Batman = carefree
millionaire Bruce Wayne (Where do you apply for that job?). And even in a world
dominated by male characters (again like Tall Tales), Wonder Woman spent her
off-time as Diana Prince, Lieutenant Nurse in the U.S. Army.
FEEDBACK
I am constantly changing my shows to accommodate the needs and concerns of
you, the teachers. Your feedback, negative and positive, is always appreciated.
There’s no reason for me to come into your schools if I’m not helping you in our
common goal of producing better students. Every little bit of feedback helps me
develop better shows, so I hope you’ll do me the great favor of providing your
thoughts on American Tall Tales.
(When I first started with my Thomas Edison show, the phonograph would heckle
a poetry reading Edison by shouting, “Shut up!” After two years a teacher pointed
out that they didn’t tolerate that type of language in their school. In trying to find
a replacement phrase, I found out that “Put a sock in it” was actually how people
muffled their phonographs... by putting a sock in them! Now my show not only
complies with school policy: it’s historically accurate! )
So if you’d like to send along any feedback please contact me
by email [email protected]m
or by phone 973-420-5268.
THANKS AGAIN!