Academic journal article The Science Teacher

A Day with Thomas Edison

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

A Day with Thomas Edison

Article excerpt

In 1922, the General Electric Company produced a silent film entitled, "A Day with Thomas A. Edison." It offers a glimpse into early 20th-century science and industry and also humanizes the larger-than-life Wizard of Menlo Park. The 24-minute film captures the industrious 74-year-old inventor, scientist, and industrialist at his laboratory in Orange, New Jersey. We see him speak with staff, consult with colleagues, and test new products with occasional title screens offering context. Footage shot on the factory floor shows the manufacturing and packaging of incandescent lightbulbs.

The film may heighten student interest in Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931) and how his work eventually lit and powered our world with electricity. In 1879, Edison demonstrated a successful carbon filament in an incandescent bulb, the first step toward building an electrical infrastructure powering a vast array of appliances, tools, and machinery that benefited both industry and the consumer. Edison also transformed entertainment by developing devices that captured and played back recorded sound and moving images, such as this film.

Edison successfully patented 1,093 inventions in the United States during his lifetime. Invite students to identify objects in the film that can be attributed to Edison or were influenced by one of his ideas.

Related Student Explorations

* Other notable figures in the history of electricity: Michael Faraday, Humphry Davy, Alessandro Volta, Benjamin Franklin, Nikola Tesla, and George Westinghouse

* Electrical exhibits at World Expositions from 1876 to 1915

* Discovery of the electron (1897)

* The technology of movie making

* Energy conservation and efficiency

* Alternative energy sources

Jennifer Harbster (jehar@loc. …

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