Reposted from 2017: Happy National Inventors’ Day!
I wrote a while backÂ about how not all inventors are dead white guys, and talked about the inventors of the toy and game industry being a hidden genre of very alive, not always white, and not always male inventors. Â At the end of the article I said, “letâ€™s all make an effort to brag about our awesome industry to some impressionable youth.” Â And it turns out that there’s a day for that!Â It’s National Inventors’ Day, let’s Celebrate!
Since I wrote that article I learned that there’s actually a National Inventors’ Day — which is celebrated on a dead white inventor’sÂ birthday. Â It makes sense that they’d choose a prolific inventor’s birthday to honor all inventors, and this guy is probably one of the best-known American inventors. Â I’ll give you a few hints: he held over 1000 patents and his ideas impacted light, power, sound recording, and motion pictures. Â Yep, it’s Thomas Edison! Â Now no knocking Thomas Edison since he’s a pretty amazing guy to have be the “spokesperson” for the invention profession — but there are so many other great inventors out there that are sort of “unsung heroes” and it seems like today would be a good day to honor them. Â Here’s a great Buzzfeed video that talks a little about that:
Hopping off my soapbox: What shall we do to celebrate National Inventors’ Day? Â I’ve got a couple ideas:
1. Show your favorite inventor a little National Inventors’Â DayÂ love with a shout out somewhere.
2. Read up on some non-dead, non-white, or non-male inventors.
Some suggestions of people who invented stuff big and small (Amazon affiliate links support The Game Aisle’s hosting costs):
- Hedy Lamarr (Movie Star/Inventor of Spread Spectrum Radio) NPR story,Â Hedy’s FollyÂ (book)
- William Kamkwamba (Junkyard Windmill Inventor/Author)Â The Boy Who Harnessed the WindÂ (autobiography), TED Talks and Bio
- Stephanie Kwolek (Inventor of Kevlar) New York TimesÂ Obituary
- Grace Hopper (Inventor of first Compiler/One of the First Computer Programmers) Yale Article, Â On David LettermanÂ (video), Grace Hopper and the Invention of the Information Age (book)
- Mary Anderson (Inventor of Windshield Wipers) USPTO article
- Momofuku Ando (Inventor of Instant Ramen/Cup Noodles) New York Times Obituary
- Margaret Knight (Inventor of the Paper Bag Machine) National Women’s History Museum Bio, Paper Discovery CenterÂ article, Marvelous Mattie (Children’s book)
- Richard Turere (Youth Inventor of Lion Lights – keeps lions away from cattle) TED Talk and Bio
- Sir Tim Berners-Lee (Inventor of the World Wide Web) WWW Foundation Article, TED Talk
- Kenneth Shinozuka (Youth Inventor of an Alzheimer’s Sock Alarm) TED Talk
- Melitta Bentz (Inventor of the Drip Coffee Process) Refinery29 Article
- Dean Kamen (Inventor of the Segway) TED Talks and Bio
- Clarence Birdseye (Inventor of Fast-Freezing Process – he’s dead, white, and male, but kind of quirky and you have frozen carrots and peas because of him) PBS article,Â Birdseye: The Adventures of a Curious ManÂ (book)
3. SpendÂ theÂ day inventing something.
Do it alone, with your kids, with a group. Â It doesn’t have to be a huge smashing success — maybe it’s something that just makesÂ your life easier. Â There’s a bit of thinking out there that setting aside a smallÂ timeframeÂ with a firm deadline to do a project can create some amazing results. Â Read more aboutÂ howÂ Google’s venture capital team usesÂ the “Sprint” method. Â Slideshare Power Point of the method.
4. Read some empowering books to your kids so they may invent something that makes the future great for mankind.
My favorites about invention:
- What Do You Do With an Idea?Â by Kobi Yamada (about growing your idea)
- The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires (that ideas don’t come out perfect the first time)
- Not a Stick and Not a Box by Antoinette Portis (thinking about new uses for regular things)
- Ish by Peter A Reynolds (not letting negative comments or the need to be perfect to get you down)
- Thank You Bear by Greg Foley (less about inventing more about believing in your ideas)
- Rosie Revere Engineer by Andrea Beaty (about never giving up when your ideas don’t work out the first time. Â Especially if someone else doesn’t share your vision.) Â <— I LOVE this book.