Thomas Alva Edison, Grades 6-8
Explore Edison’s Life and Work in These Lessons, Activities, and Resources
Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931) held 1,093 U.S. Patents including a stock ticker, a mechanical vote recorder, a battery for an electric car, electrical power, recorded music and motion pictures. Explore his life and work in these lessons, activities, and resources.
And do not forget Nikola Tesla, who once worked for Edison and later became a business rival, along with George Westinghouse, in the War of the Currents.
- Thomas Edison for Kids
Students in grades 6-8 explore the scientific knowledge behind some of Thomas Edison's inventions and the impact that his work has had on society and history.
- Too Bright at Night?
Students in grades 6-8 consider the negative consequences of nighttime lighting, enabled by the invention of electric lights at the close of the 19th Century.
- Timelines and Texts: Motivating Students to Read Nonfiction
Students in grades 6-8 use a timeline and prior knowledge to place an invention in time and explain their reasoning.
- Lesson Three: Merchandising and Advertising
Students in grades 6-12 analyze mass-circulation magazines from 1926 documenting the mass-consumer economy of the time and the increasing electrification of homes.
- Lesson Four: Women and the Mass Consumer Society
Students in grades 6-12 write and perform radio commercials for consumer products in magazines from 1921-1929.
Additional Lesson Plans
Unit Plan: Deaf Inventors ( PDF 33 pages, 1.98 MB)
Grade 8. Lessons 3 and 4 are about Edison.
The Thomas A. Edison Papers
The Thomas A. Edison Papers Project comprises 5 million pages of documents chronicling the life and achievements of Thomas Alva Edison. The site includes other curriculum materials.
The Diary of Thomas A. Edison
Edisonian Home Page
Photos and background on early light bulbs.
The American Experience | Edison's Miracle of Light
Companion website includes a teacher’s guide, timeline, and gallery.
Tesla - Master of Lightning
Companion website includes explorations of Tesla inventions and lesson plans for grades 6-8.
The Invention Factory
Explore Edison’s process of invention and see if you can lead the Edison Team to success.
AC/DC: What's the Difference?
An animation demonstrating the difference between alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC).
Play against the computer or challenge a friend to see who knows more about invention.
Explore ten sets of inventions and trace the paths of invention.
Which Came First?
Each round has five questions, and each correct answer is worth 10 points. Play all four rounds and answer all questions correctly and you will be crowned "Invention Know-It-All."
- Jan. 4, 1903: Edison Fries an Elephant to Prove His Point
One of many graphic demonstrations used by Thomas Edison during the War of the Currents to highlight the danger of George Westinghouse’s (and Teslas’s) AC.
- The boyhood of Thomas Edison (14:07)
(orig.16mm print) (1964)
- Thomas Alva Edison
4 videos, 2 speeches,2 photo galleries
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Every invention — from telephones to televisions — is the result of someone's imagination and creativity, but today's electronic gadgets don't bolster imagination at school. So, who will be tomorrow's Edisons, and what will they invent?