Some do it to meet basic needs; others invent to fulfill creative desires. There are still those, too, who do it for economic reasons: making money can be a strong incentive. For one thing, it allows individuals, companies, and nations to stay ahead of the competition. People have also invented for social reasons -- for comfort, security, hygiene, and health -to make life easier. Imagine a world without the washing machine, telephone, or airplane.
What about right here in our own state? After reading this issue of The Goldfinch, you're aware that quite a number of inventive things have occurred in Iowa as well. To date, people from Iowa have created such innovative inventions as the Eskimo Pie, Sheaffer pen, merry-go-round, and nylon.
What about our younger inventors? In our article about kid inventor Nicholas Schrunk, Nicholas's pet guinea pig, Freckles, needed exercise, so he developed the Motorized Guinea Pig Walker. As a result, he won the state Invent, Iowa! competition and received an honorary patent signed by the governor.
Our History Makers section proves that other youngsters have also had their hands full creating a variety of inventions. We reported that through Invent, Iowa!, a state-wide program that teachers creative thinking and problem solving through the invention process, 38,000 youngsters representing more than 100 cities in Iowa competed, showcasing such inventions as glow-in-the-dark eyeglass frames to a bottle feeding station for calves.
In this issue of The Goldfinch, we feature an article on Walter Sheaffer. And for good reason. If this Fort Madison jeweler did not leave the jewelry business back in 1912, we would not have what has come to be known today as the Sheaffer pen. Essentially, Walter Sheaffer invented a lever mechanism that fits smoothly into the pen's barrel, and with a single stroke, you're able to fill the pen's reservoir with ink directly from the bottle. Today, this Fort Madison company distributes Sheaffer pens to more than 150 countries around the world.
What comes after the invention process is complete? Patenting. Since 1836, sixty thousand Iowans (six million worldwide) have received patents for their inventions. Patents aren't issued for good ideas alone. The inventions have to be useful and have to work. To apply for a patent, an inventor must submit a written document describing the invention along with a claim as to why it is new and distinct, provide an oath as to truth and accuracy, provide drawings of the invention, and pay filing fees of up to one thousand dollars.
All you need to create an invention is a big idea. And, as we've seen in this issue, there are many Iowans, young and old, who have turned dreams into reality. Who knows? Maybe the next invention will come from one of your students.
Inventors and Inventions from A to Z: Describes the types of inventions Iowans havecreated over the years.
Patents: Emphasizes the patent process.
Inventor's Crossword Puzzle: Crossword puzzle concerning inventors and their inventions.
History Mystery: Read about Iowa women who have received patents, then match themwith their inventions.
Write Women Back Into History: Story of a generous woman who invented Master Mix.
Nicholas Schrunk: Kid Inventor: Tells how a student from Spirit Lake invented amotorized walker for his guinea pig.
What's the Big Idea?: Tells how Walter Sheaffer created the world-famous Sheaffer pen.
Dear Diary: Shows how inventions--especially the telephone-affected one woman in the early 1900s.
Be a Diary Detective: Activity where you dig into Mary Eleanor Armstrong's diary andanswer questions raised by the featured entries.
History Makers: Shows students from different Iowa cities participating in a state-widecompetition showcasing their inventions.
Fiction: The Dream Computer: A fictionalized account of the impact the ABComputer,invented at Iowa State University, had on our society.