Benjamin Franklin: An Inquiring Mind

Benjamin Franklin: An Inquiring Mind
Martha Jefferson: Science, Medicine, Inventions and tech

Skill: Elementary School
Time Required: Three class periods


The 18th century, during which Martha Jefferson lived, was a time of great discoveries and inventions.  One of the most “inventive” inventors was Benjamin Franklin, who was probably an acquaintance of Martha's, as well as a close colleague of Thomas Jefferson in framing the American Revolution, the Constitution, and then the early years of the United States.


After participating in this activity, students will know about the inventions of Benjamin Franklin, as well as more about the life of this most important Founding Father.  Students will also gain experience in engaging in research, collecting materials, and organizing an exhibition, or, in this case, a classroom science fair.

Materials Required:

Access to the Internet.  Library materials on Benjamin Franklin.  Poster-making materials.


1.  Divide the class into several small groups; assign each group  one of the following tasks:

  • Researching  the life of Benjamin Franklin.
  • Researching his work with electricity.
  • Researchng his work with fire departments and fire insurance.
  • Researching his inventions (this should be the largest group; each student should select one invention).  
2.  Each group should be responsible for creating a demonstration site for the subject of its research.  This might be in the form of a poster, or a set of pictures, or, in the case of bifocals, for instance, an actual artifact. On the day of the Fair, students from other classrooms might be invited to tour the Science Fair.
3.  If additional inventions are to be made part of the Fair, additional time will be required and the assignment of tasks may differ.
4.  Prizes might be awarded for the best demonstration site. 

Extending the Lesson:

This lesson can be extended in several ways:

For enrichment activities connected to Benjamin Franklin, see 

Franklin Enrichment Activities, or for

The Classroom Science Fair could include other inventions of the period:  see, for example,

18th Century Inventions

Sources & Resources:


Benjamin Franklin: An Enlightened American 

Ben’s Guide to U.S. Government


This lesson was developed by Averil McClelland, Kent State University.