Tag Archives: curiosity

Inventor Spotlight – Garrett Morgan

Inventor Spotlight – Garrett Morgan

Garrett Morgan proves that you don’t have to be a scientist or an engineer to be an inventor. You also don’t have to have a college degree. But there is one trait you must have if you want to be an inventor, and that’s curiosity.


Garrett Morgan was the son of former slaves who set out at the age of 16 with a 7th grade education and headed into Cincinnati, Ohio to find work. He was good at repairing things since he had spent his teenage years working as a handyman. He found work repairing sewing machines for a clothing manufacturer, and that’s when his curiosity really took shape. It’s not surprising that he would come up with his first invention during this time.


Before the war women would tend to invent the things that they were exposed to everyday. So, in the beginning those inventions were things that made their work at home easier. Once they started working on assembly lines in factories, they were exposed to different problems and would create inventions to solve them.


Since Garrett was exposed to the problems of fixing sewing machines, that’s where his focus was. Inventors solve problems. It usually starts with a problem of your own and a great need to fix it. Garrett sold his first invention, a sewing machine belt, which helps improve the machine’s efficiency, for $50. Besides just being a clever inventor, he also had a knack for business. He opened his own sewing machine repair shop, and eventually his own tailoring shop, which employed 32 people.


This would have been enough for most people, but Garrett Morgan was just getting started. In 1914 he was granted a patent for a gas mask and set up a manufacturing company to produce them. The product was called the Morgan National Safety Hood. Garrett traveled across the country pitching his invention by wearing the mask in a smoke-filled tee-pee, and proved that he was quite a showman. If he was around today, he probably would have done his own infomercial.


His mask was put to the test when he used it to save over a dozen men from a tunnel explosion below Lake Erie. He put on the mask and went into the tunnel to save the trapped men. He was awarded a gold and diamond medal by a group of citizens in Cleveland for his heroism.


Ever concerned about safety, Garrett noticed the increasing number of accidents at intersections, since horse-drawn carriages had to share the road with cars. One in particular involved a young girl. This was the impetus for him to figure out a way to do something about it. He received the first patent for the three signal stoplight in 1923, and eventually sold the rights to General Electric for $40,000.


Garrett Morgan would go on to invent other things and would start his own newspaper. He was a prolific inventor, but always considered himself an entrepreneur first.



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4 Ways to Encourage Creativity in Kids

4 Ways to Encourage Creativity in Kids

Ahh, what did kids do before XBOX and Wii? What did kids do before computer games? Well, they probably had a much stronger imagination. And imagination is important to a child’s cognitive development. Studies show that children who have imaginary friends are more likely to be more creative and better able to solve problems.


As it turns out, the things that you are able to do for free with your children are also some of the best for them, like engaging them in creativity. Here are some ways to encourage creativity in kids that doesn’t cost a lot of money:


  • Make-believe – A few items from the closet, like hats, purses, and common household items can be transformed into characters with a little imagination. Get your child to come up with stories based around those characters and act them out. Kids love it when adults join them in their make-believe storytelling. This helps to strengthen their communication skills and builds confidence.


  • Reading aloud – Creativity is about making associations between different kinds of ideas and creating something new from them. Reading and hearing stories stimulates their creativity by getting them to be exposed to new things. Also, reading aloud to your kids helps improve their listening skills. It can be entertaining and educational.



  • Encourage independence – Allow kids to make as many independent choices as possible. Kids and adults will tend to stick with things that excite them. Let them choose the hobbies, books, games, and activities they want. Then give them the tools and encouragement they need to succeed.



  • Forget about results – Studies show that children from a results-oriented culture like China tend to be less creative because they are so pressured to focus on memorizing information and passing tests.  Creativity is a process of it’s own with no test at the end. Let kids experiment without deadlines or the stress of actually producing anything at all. They will learn more about creativity through the actual trial and error process.


Kids are naturally curious and open minded. Challenge them and nurture that curiosity, and allow them to make their own mistakes, while keeping them safe.


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