May: National Inventors Month

May is “National Inventors Month”, which means it's time to celebrate the innovators and tinkerers that have enhanced our quality of life with their brilliant ideas.  South Carolina has produced their fair share of creative thinkers:

  • Free Fall Amusement Ride- Gerald Barber of Greenville, SC is an amazing inventor. Not only did he invent the Free Fall ride that people rave about all over the country, he also invented more efficient wind turbines.
  • X-Men--Although, Dave Cockrum was born in Oregon, he spent most of his life in Belton, SC. He was an amazingly talented comic book artist.
  • Rice Krispies Characters-Vernon Grant lived most of his life in Rock Hill, SC. Without him, we would not have those beloved characters Snap, Crackle, and Pop!
  • GaBBY Bows- Gabrielle Goodwin was chosen as the 2015 South Carolina Young Entrepreneur of the Year. She and her mom, Rozalynn live in Columbia, SC.  The double-face, double-snap barrettes were invented because Gabby kept losing hers.  The stronger, no-slip barrettes are now sold in 48 states and eight countries around the world.

Did you know that the popsicle, ear muffs AND the trampoline were also invented by kids?   Kids are natural inventors so turn your classroom into a workshop filled with limitless possibilities!  Some activities that your students might enjoy are:

  • Make a chart of the steps that real inventors use.
  • Stock a work station with an assortment of junk and see what children can create.
  • Create a chart of inventors and inventions.  Add a 3rd column stating why the invention was created.
Other activities can be found at:
Some books that will spark children’s interests:
  • The Kid who Invented the Popsicle, By Don L. Wulffson: Arranged in alphabetical order with fun-to-read text, this book is packed with the stories behind over 100 inventions.
  • I is for Idea, By Marcia Schonberg: I is for Idea explores the development of bicycles, zippers, toilets, computers, and many other inventions that we now take for granted in our daily lives.
  • The Most Magnificent Thing, By Ashley Spires: Making a magnificent thing is anything but easy, and the girl tries and fails, repeatedly.  This funny book offers a perfect example of the rewards of perseverance and creativity.
Visit Spark!Lab at TCMU:

Spark!Lab, one of only six across the country, encourages creativity, collaboration and problem solving by inviting visitors to tinker and explore, as they develop new skills and confidence in their abilities.