The Edison Innovation Foundation is committed to education efforts, developing and launching programs and products for both students and teachers. A variety of education programs and materials are available that champion invention, creativity, and alternate energy sources.
Teachers attend for credit in-service programs sponsored by the Foundation, and apply lessons learned immediately in their classrooms. Teachers and students tour the Edison West Orange Labs and learn first-hand of Edison’s incredible accomplishments. Student teams can take part in the annual Thomas Edison Invention Challenge hosted by the Foundation–open to middle-high school students in the State.
Since its inception, the Foundation has worked to influence young men and women toward careers in science and technology, drawing on the spirit of Thomas Edison as the motivating factor. Programs launched by the Foundation have been lauded by classroom teachers and teaching organizations like the New Jersey Technology and Engineering Education Association [NJTEEA]. Recently, the Foundation has worked with NJTEEA to highlight young women interested in engineering. Known as FemGineers, these bright and motivated middle-high school students have performed projects in conjunction with the Foundation.
Why Edison is Relevant Today?
Pick up a cell phone and you are carrying Edison around with you. Three of his four greatest inventions/industries are right there …recorded sound, motion pictures, and when the phone gets tired, you plug it in to re-charge in the electric utility industry Edison established back in 1882. His fourth great invention was team-based R&D new product development laboratories to create and innovate at will. Every major company has an R&D lab or access to them. These labs are commercial birthing stations for tomorrow’s new products/services.
Life magazine proclaimed Edison to be the Man of the Millennium, giving society more practical value than any other living human. In 2010, TIME magazine dedicated its mid-year cover to him and his continuing relevance in our world. The Voice of America in 2012 proclaimed that thanks to Edison’s labs and their outpouring of new products and inventions, Edison is probably responsible today for one-fourth of all the world’s jobs. Edison has ben dead since 1931, yet his impact on the world is still felt strongly today. His inventive genius is responsible for 10% of the American economy, about $1.5 trillion dollars annually.
Now more than ever we need his inventive spirit to bootstrap our faltering economy. As President Obama said,
“We need to get back to that Edison inventive spirit.”
His ability to harness team spirit and creativity is exactly what our youth are learning in schools today … known as STEM problem solving. At his West Orange, NJ Labs, Tom pioneered the basics of STEM. He has never left us. His memory is yet green, relevant, and valuable to both our economy and our education system.