Thomas Edison Games & Activities

Instructor: Matthew Hamel

Matt has degrees in Journalism and Business and has taught a variety of courses at high schools and universities around the world.

Thomas Edison is a giant figure in American history and culture. This lesson provides teachers with classroom games and activities about the life and work of Thomas Edison.

Thomas Edison

As a world-renowned scientist and inventor, Thomas Edison has been an inspirational figure to generations of dreamers. He is responsible for inventions ranging from practical electric lights to movie cameras. The activities in this lesson are designed to supplement classroom study of Thomas Edison in order to increase student understanding and appreciation for this remarkable man.

Choose an Invention

Hopefully your students already know about the many inventions credited to Edison. In this activity, each student will research one Edison invention and give a short oral presentation to the class. Students can choose any invention they like and their presentations should include the following.

  • Name and year of invention
  • A summary of Edison's words about the invention
  • How the invention has either evolved over the years OR why the invention is no longer practical.

Each presentation should include one visual aid. This could include example of the invention (light bulb, phonograph) or a picture of the invention. You can leave this requirement open to interpretation. You may be surprised how creative your students can be when deciding on a visual aid.

New Inventions

Using Edison as inspiration, students will create their own inventions. This activity generally works better as a group activity so that students can brainstorm, share ideas and collaborate with each other. It's great if the groups can actually build a prototype of their invention, but if this isn't possible, blueprints or other visuals should accompany the team's explanation of their invention. Inventions should be:

  • Realistic and practical (no time machines or other science fiction staples)
  • Relatively easy to understand

After each group shares their invention with the class, you can have a vote and award the team that came up with the best invention.

Edison Trivia

There are two ways to play this Edison-themed game. The first way is for you to write your own trivia questions (or use the sample questions below) for the entire class to try to answer, or you can put students into teams and have each team write questions to share with their classmates.

  1. When was Edison born? (February 11th, 1847)
  2. What is Edison's middle name? (Alva)
  3. How many patents did Edison hold during his lifetime? (1,093)
  4. What is the name of Edison's laboratory? (Menlo Park)
  5. What year did Edison invent the motion picture camera? (1891)
  6. True or false - Edison was an avid hunter and insisted on eating meat every day. (False - Edison was a vegetarian)
  7. True or false - Edison suffered from bad eyesight most of his life. (False - Edison suffered from poor hearing)
  8. What nursery rhyme did Edison recite when testing his phonograph? (Mary Had a Little Lamb)
  9. Who asked for Edison's last breath to be collected in a test tube? (Henry Ford)
  10. What year did Edison invent the light bulb? (Trick question - Edison didn't invent the light bulb, however, he did perfect the design)

If you opt to have teams write questions, each team should select a quizmaster to read the questions aloud to the rest of the class.

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