From inventions that changed the world to some that may just leave you scratching your head, Canada Invents explores the history of Canadian inventions.
Susan Hughes takes students on a journey through time as she shows the vast number of ways Canadians have changed the world. The people who occupy the great northern landmass of North America have always been great inventors and innovators. From the time the First Peoples walked across land bridges from Asia to North America until today, they have molded and manipulated their physical environment, modified their food sources, improved their means of production, developed new games to make their leisure time more enjoyable, and sought to enhance their health through medical breakthroughs.
There is no shortage of books on Canadian inventors and their inventions on library and bookstore shelves. They all essentially provide the same information. However, what distinguishes Susan Hughes' effort from many others of the genre is her inclusion of some young Canadian inventors and innovators in her book. Young readers quickly discover that great ideas come from people of all ages and educational backgrounds. You don't have to be a research scientist or a university professor; you can be a mom, a dad, or a kid because creativity belongs to all of us.
Joseph-Armand Bombardier was only fifteen when he came up with his idea for an auto-neige (snow car), which eventually led to the development of the Ski-Doo. Paul Brown was a nineteen-year-old high school student when his moment of inspiration came; he developed a Walkman that operates using a spring mechanism instead of batteries. Dave Zakutin was also in high school when he developed his prototype of a speed sensing baseball which is marketed across North America by the giant Rawling's Sporting Goods Company. Eleven-year-old Rachel Zimmerman used computer technology to augment a communication device for non-speaking individuals. Xing Zeng was thirteen when she developed "talking glasses" for a school science fair. These glasses can tell a visually impaired person how far they are from objects in their path. Even pre-teen Canadians have great ideas. After her brother was hurt in a bicycle accident, eleven-year-old Gina Gallant invented the "smart" bicycle helmet that tells parents if their child's helmet is not on properly. Five grade five students developed the Flusher 2000 toilet seat, and twelve-year-old Tyler Mitchell invented Comfy Crutches after his mom broke her leg. If Susan Hughes' book convinces one student that not everything has been invented and inspires them to follow their creative dreams, if she convinces one teacher to support their students' half-baked improbable ideas in science or literature, history, or art, she will have done her job.
Ian Stewart is a teacher with Winnipeg #1 School Division, Winnipeg, MB.
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Inventions surround you. From the time you wake up in the morning until the time you go to bed at night, you are using inventions. The bed you sleep in and the sheets you fling off when you get up are inventions. So are the cereal you eat for breakfast and the spoon you eat it with. Your toothbrush, your toothpaste, and the sink you spit into. Yes, even the toilet! In fact, you can hardly turn around without bumping into an invention.