Thomas Alva Edison, Grades K-5
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.
- Inventions 1: Edison and the Light Bulb
Students in grades K-2 consider Edison’s improvement of the incandescent light bulb as an example of how inventions are created to solve problems or improve the way things are done.
- Inventions 2: The Impact
Students in grades K-2 examine the process of inventing, particularly on what short- and long-term issues, good and bad, inventors have to consider before developing an invention.
- Thomas Edison's Inventions in the 1900s and Today: From "New" to You!
Students in grades 3-5 become familiar with life and technology around 1900 in order to better understand how Edison influenced both.
- Economic Spotter: Inventors and Entrepreneurs in the Industrial Age
Students in grades 3-5 investigate the relationship between inventors, innovators, entrepreneurs, and industries.
Additional Lesson Plans
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 4-6.
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."
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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?