Monday, February 15, 2016

Inventions 1: Whole Class

Passage 1:

Hot Air Balloon
The hot air balloon was invented by Jaques and Joseph Montgolfier, two French brothers who ran a paper bag factory. They came up with the idea one day when they filled a paper bag with hot air and found that it floated.   In 1783 the brothers went for a test flight. When they landed in a field, terrified peasants thought they were under attack by creatures from another planet, and proceeded to hack the balloon to pieces.  

from The Kid Who Invented the Popsicle by Don L. Wulffson

Passage 2:



On the 19th September 1783 Pilatre De Rozier, a scientist, launched the first hot air balloon called 'Aerostat Reveillon'. The passengers were a sheep, a duck and a rooster and the balloon stayed in the air for a grand total of 15 minutes before crashing back to the ground.

The first manned attempt came about 2 months later on 21st November, with a balloon made by 2 French brothers, Joseph-Michel and Jacques-Etienne Montgolfier. The balloon was launched from the centre of Paris and flew for a period of 20 minutes. The birth of hot air ballooning!!!

Just 2 years later in 1785 a French balloonist, Jean Pierre Blanchard, and his American co-pilot, John Jefferies, became the first to fly across the English Channel. In these early days of ballooning, the English Channel was considered the first step to long distance ballooning so this was a large benchmark in ballooning history.

Unfortunately, this same year Pilatre de Rozier (the world's first balloonist) was killed in his attempt at crossing the channel. His balloon exploded half an hour after takeoff due to the experimental design of using a hydrogen balloon and hot air balloon tied together.

The next major pivotal point in balloon history was on January 7th 1793. Jean Pierre Blanchard became the first to fly a hot air balloon in North America. George Washington was present to see the balloon launch.

parachute hat

Passage 3: 
   During the eighteenth century, many inventors tested parachutes, and some died as a result of their failures.  One of the most bizarre was the "parachute hat,"  a helmet to which a parachute had been attached.  For a soft, bouncy landing, the inventor wore big rubber bouncy shoes. Unfortunately, in his one and only test of the "parachute hat," the inventor broke his neck.  
    Jacques Garnerin made the first successful flight to earth in 1797 in France.  He ascended above Paris in a basket suspended from a hot-air balloon.  Also attached to the basket was an umbrella-like parachute.  Reaching a height of 3000 feet, Garnerin cut the cords attaching the balloon to the basket, then descended safely to the ground as the basket swayed gently back and forth, supported by his parachute.
from The Kid Who Invented the Popsicle by Don L. Wulffson

A modern parachute

In fact, hot air balloons were often used to test parachutes.
     Public opinion became very unfavorable towards the use of parachutes when Robert Cocking fell to his death in 1837. Cocking jumped an inverted coneshaped parachute (point down) from 5000 ft. and distinguished himself by becoming another early fatality of parachuting (

Quotations about invention and inventors:

“Where a new invention promises to be useful, it ought to be tried.” 
– Thomas Jefferson

“An amazing invention - but who would ever want to use one?” 
- Rutherford B. Hayes, referring to Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone.

The very greatest things - great thoughts, discoveries, inventions - have usually been nurtured in hardship, often pondered over in sorrow, and at length established with difficulty. Samuel Smiles
Read more at:

I never did anything by accident, nor did any of my inventions come by accident; they came by work. Thomas A. Edison
Read more at: