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The Library of Congress > Teachers > Classroom Materials > Presentations and Activities > What in the World Is That?
What in the World Is That? - Ingenious Inventions Throughout History
Resources of the Game
Airphibian
The Airphibian (1947 photograph) Prints and Photographs Online Catalog
The Airphibian (1947 photograph) Prints and Photographs Online Catalog
Battery radio
Old-time battery radio (1915-1925 photograph by Harry M. Rhoads) History of the American West, 1860-1920
A portable radio hung on the wall (1994 photograph) Working in Paterson

Carpet cleaner
Carpet cleaner run by a gasoline engine (1907 photograph) Prairie Settlement
Boy using a carpet beater to clean a rug hung over a clothesline outside a shack (1916 photograph) Photographs from the Chicago Daily News

Corn detasseler
Corn detasseller (1948 photograph) Prints and Photographs Online Catalog
O! how high, Colorado corn (1921 photograph) History of the American West, 1860-1920

Cotton gin
Lummus Cotton Gins (1896 price list) Emergence of Advertising In America, 1850-1920
Mississippi cotton gin (1898 photograph) Touring Turn-of-the-Century America

Electron microscope
John Thompson Dorrance Laboratory, M.I.T., Cambridge, Massachusetts. Electron microscope (1953 photograph) Architecture and Interior Design for 20th Century America
The RCA electron microscope is shown here with its inventor
s (ca.1930 – ca.1950 photograph) Prints and Photographs Online Catalog

Gramophone
Gramophone: specification forming part of Letters Patent No. 372,786 (1887 patent) Emile Berliner and the Birth of the Recording Industry
Early gramophone, hand cranked (1894 photograph) Emile Berliner and the Birth of the Recording Industry

Ornithopter
Arnold Coblitz in ornithopter in Czechoslovakia (undated photograph) Prints and Photographs Online Catalog
Flugmaschine
(1807 engraving) Prints and Photographs Online Catalog

Punched card sorter
An operator at the US Bureau of the Census pointing out the interior mechanism of the punched card sorter (c. 1939 photograph) Prints and Photographs Online Catalog
Punch time cards for pay accounting (1943 photograph) America from the Great Depression to World War II

Reaper
Atkins's automaton reaper on exhibition at the Crystal Palace (1854 engraving) Prints and Photographs Online Catalog
Lagonda Agricultural Works (1859 chromolithograph) Prints and Photographs Online Catalog

Snow gauge
Child standing on snow gauge of the Weather Bureau (ca. 1909 - ca. 1932 photograph) Prints and Photographs Online Catalog
Winter scenes. Snowflakes, three rows of four (ca. 1920 – ca. 1950 photograph) Washington as It Was

Steam engine
The first steam engine designed and built in the United States (1893 lithograph) Prints and Photographs Online Catalog
James Watt and the Steam Engine (1890 periodical article) The Nineteenth Century in Print: Periodicals

Submarine
John P. Holland, head-and-shoulders portrait, climbing up hatch of his invention, the USS Holland submarine (1961, from a photograph taken between 1898 and 1914) Prints and Photographs Online Catalog
The Holland Submarine (1936 photograph) Historic American Buildings Survey

Telecommunication cable
Manufacture of the Atlantic telegraph cable (1857 engraving) Prints and Photographs Online Catalog
The Atlantic telegraph cable (1865 engraving) Prints and Photographs Online Catalog

Telephone
Alexander Graham Bell's design sketch of the telephone (ca. 1876 drawing) Words and Deeds in American History
The Detroit news timely topics. Bell's first telephone (ca. 1915- ca. 1925 drawing) Touring Turn-of-the-Century America

Turbine water wheel
Descriptions and Illustrations – Images 8 and 10 (1878 booklet) Emergence of Advertising in America, 1850-1920


More Library of Congress Resources
American Treasures: Fulton's Submarine - Napoleon commissioned the first practical submarine, designed by the American inventor, Robert Fulton.
American Treasures: Samuel F. B. Morse - In March 1839, artist and inventor Samuel F. B. Morse traveled to Paris to promote the telegraph.

American Treasures: "Mr. Watson - come here!" - Alexander Graham Bell's notebook entry of March 10, 1876 describes the first successful experiment with the telephone.

Edison's Failed Inventions - Edison held 1093 patents, but he also had a few inventions that failed.

Emile Berliner: Inventor of the Gramophone - Learn about Emile Berliner who was responsible for the development of the microphone and the flat recording disc and gramophone player. Be sure to visit the online collection – Emile Berliner and the Birth of the Recording Industry - for more than 400 primary source items and 180 Berliner sound recordings.

First Flight at Kitty Hawk - The Wright brothers were from Ohio, but they achieved most of their successes in North Carolina.

Invention of the Ice Cream Cone - Enjoy this America's Library short story on the invention of this sweet treat.

Invention of the Telegraph – Explore resources from the Morse Papers in this special presentation.

John Bull and Uncle Sam: Inventions and Discoveries - Learn how many of America’s inventions were modeled after British technologies in this joint exhibit of the Library of Congress and the British Library.

Jump Back in Time: Inventor Elias Howe Was Born - Elias Howe, inventor of the first practical American sewing machine, was born July 9, 1819.

Thomas Alva Edison - A brief biography of Edison is featured here, along with articles from journals of his day in which he offered his views on music, films, inventions, and other topics. Be sure to view the 341 motion pictures, 81 disc sound recordings, and other Edison related materials in the Inventing Entertainment collection.

Today in History (December 17, 1903) First Flight - On this day in 1903, the brothers became the first people to demonstrate sustained flight of a heavier-than-air machine under the complete control of the pilot.

Today in History (December 2, 1942) Atomic Age begins - On this day in 1942, scientists headed by Enrico Fermi engineered the first controlled nuclear fission chain reaction.

Today in History (June 3, 1880) Bell’s Photophone - Alexander Graham Bell transmitted the first wireless telephone message on his newly invented "photophone."

Today in History (May 24, 1844) First Telegraph Message - View the first telegraphic image and explore fascinating resources related to Samuel Morse and his inventions.

Wilbur and Orville Wright Papers – This amazing collection of almost 50,000 digital images and more than 10,000 primary source correspondence, diaries, notebooks, scrapbooks, drawings and other printed matter documents the lives of Wilbur and Orville Wright and highlights their pioneering work which led to the world’s first powered, controlled and sustained flight. Be sure to explore the special presentations including: Collection Highlights , Timeline, Photography and the Wright Brothers , the Wright Family Tree , and an essay introducing the correspondence between Wilbur Wright and Octave Chanute.

Resources Outside of the Library
Selected Internet Resources – Inventions – These invention sites were selected by Science Research Services of the Library of Congress.

Explore Invention at the Lemelson Center – Discover the exciting world of inventions at the Smithsonian’s Jerome and Dorothy Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation. Be sure to have your students visit Invention at Play.

Exploring Leonardo – Explore this site developed by the Boston Museum of Science to learn more about Leonardo – the scientist, inventor and artist. View a sampling of his inventions in Leonardo’s Marvelous Machinery game.

History of Games – View a timeline, take a quiz and learn about the origins and inventors of popular toys and games at this History Channel exhibit.

Inventing a New Kind of Pencil – This site offers ideas for teaching a lesson on inventing a new kind of pencil. The site also has a link to a similar page on inventing a new kind of eraser.

Inventors and Inventions – An extensive collection of inventor related sites for students and teachers.

James Watt – Students will enjoy learning about James Watt and his inventions in this interactive activity from the UK Show Me site.

The Spirit of American Innovation: The National Medal of Technology – First awarded in 1985, this medal is given annually to individuals, teams, or companies for accomplishments in the innovation, development, commercialization, and management of technology. Students will love exploring the interactive hospital, home and office panoramas in the What in the World activity.

Technology at Home - Students can travel back in time through the 20th century and find out when everyday items such as the telephone and television first appeared in the home.