Thomas Edison and His Inventions

Thomas Edison and His Inventions
Caroline Harrison: Science, Medicine, Inventions and tech

Skill: Elementary School
Time Required: One to two class periods


Thomas Edison is often acknowledged as America’s most prolific inventor, holding nearly 1100 patents.  However, he was labeled as “addled” by his elementary school teachers (his mother removed him from school and taught him reading, writing, and basic math at home) and suffered partial deafness from his early teens until his death.  His life story is one of determination to overcome all odds.  His lifetime coincides with that of Caroline Harrison and it was while she was First Lady that the White House was wired for electricity


The purpose of this lesson is to allow students to develop an understanding of the contributions of Thomas Edison to American life as well as an appreciation for the obstacles he overcame on the road to success. 

Materials Required:

Access to the Internet Inventions timeline link Access to print reference materials Biography of Thomas Edison


1.  Tell the life story of Thomas Edison or read about him to the class.  Be certain to select a biography that addresses his partial deafness and his inability to be successful in elementary school.
2.  Ask students to brainstorm the effects those two disabilities could have had on Edison.
3.  Using the web, have students construct a list of the most important inventions credited to Edison.
4.  Have each student select one invention and write a short essay on what impact that invention has on American life today.  The students may also wish to illustrate their essay.

Extending the Lesson:

The teacher may choose to have a “Thomas Edison Day” to celebrate the Genius of Menlo Park, as he was known.  This lesson could also correlate with science lessons as well.

Sources & Resources:

This lesson was created and developed by Bette Brooks, Kent State University.