Inventions

Homework Helper: Getting Inventive

When creativity is harnessed for useful ends, that is when we get amazing inventions. Can you think of a better computer? Somebody did. Otherwise there would only be a few of them; they would be really slow--and they would take up entire rooms! Or, how about a cell phone? Those were inspired by the communicators on the original Star Trek series.

Virginia educators (and librarians!) are very interested in helping kids realize their potential in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields. Indeed, Virginia has a history of producing some very inventive people.

Exploring Ancient China

The First Emperor

China's first emperor was named Qin Shi Huangdi. He brought together all the warring states and made them his subjects in 221 B. C. Qin is pronounced "Chin" and ever after the country was named China. He took the name Shi Huangdi which means "first emperor." Qin was an unusual man. He standardized writing, bureaucracy, scholarship, law, currency (money), and weights and measures. He built a capital and many roads. He connected the old walls along China's northern frontier to form the Great Wall, to protect his country from invaders. But he was also cruel. He killed and banished many people who disagreed with him and destroyed books from the past.

The Noblest Invention: An Illustrated History of the Bicycle

By Editors of Bicycling Magazine

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A beautiful, oversized book filled with bicycle trivia and history.

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Mr. Lincoln's High-Tech War: How the North Used the Telegraph, Railroads, Surveillance Balloons, Ironclads, High-Powered Weapons, and More to Win the Civil War

By Thomas B. Allen & Roger MacBride Allen

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Lincoln knew that winning the war would take more than the same old strategies and maneuvers. It would require using technology to create new ways of waging war. Lincoln worked to make sure his soldiers and sailors had the best and latest hardware. By combining new tools with time-tested tactics, he helped revolutionize warfare.

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John Lee Pratt's Frigidaire

 This sizzling summer seems a fitting season to recall the almost forgotten story of John Lee Pratt and the Frigidaire, one of the first "mechanical" refrigerators.

In 1919 Mr. Pratt, a King George County boy who would become a multi-millionaire and owner of Chatham Manor, was a General Motors engineer.

That same year GM had produced the Frigidaire, one of the first mechanical refrigerators for home use. They were called "mechanical" because some were powered by electricity, others by gas.