"Mr. Watson, come here. I want to see you." These words, spoken by Alexander Graham Bell on March 7, 1876, to his assistant Thomas A. Watson, changed history as we know it. Bell's experiment would eventually be known as the telephone.
Bell and Watson experienced the first two-way conversation using the telephone on October 6, 1876. Three days later they spoke "long distance" over a two-mile telegraph line from Boston to Cambridge. Bell's invention was readily received as he spent the next several months demonstrating and lecturing about this new gadget. Then on July 9, 1877, the first telephone company was created—the Bell Telephone Company.
Now, 134 years later, we live in a world of instant access to information and communication. Technology has progressed to the point of being able to talk on the phone while accessing files and surfing the Web. Long gone are the days of waiting weeks or months for communication. This fast-paced world allows us to easily speak with few hindrances.
Alexander Graham Bell opened the lines of communication in a way the world could never have anticipated. His discovery paved the way for the future. Texts, tweets, and the instant messages of today's phones are possible due to Bell's invention of the telephone.
• "He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him." Psalm 91:15
• "Hide not thy face from me in the day when I am in trouble; incline thine ear unto me: in the day when I call answer me speedily." Psalm 102:2
• "Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not." Jeremiah 33:3
Inventor, telephone, electromagnet, transmitter, telegraph, receiver, diaphragm, sound vibrations, electrical current, and experiments.
- Research the life of Alexander Graham Bell. Write a two-page report and share with family members. How many siblings did he have? How old was he when he died? Who did he marry? How many children did he have? Did he have any other notable events or people in his life?
- The telephone is a way of communicating with another person. Write a script dialogue between you and your best friend.
- Pretend you are a reporter and have just observed and heard the first two-way conversation between Bell and his associate. Write an article on this new invention.
- Pretend Bell is visiting the year 2010. Journal how you would explain to him how the telephone has changed through the years.
- Alexander's patent for the telephone was placed just hours before another inventor. See if you can find out who this other person was. It took many lawsuits for Bell to be able to hold the title of being the original inventor.
- Bell's original intention was to design a multiple telegraph, able to send more than one message at a time. Research the Morse code. Write a note to your parents using this form of communication.
- Design your own tin-can telephone. Clean out two metal cans. Make sure they are clean and dry with no sharp edges. Cut twelve feet of kite string. Ask one of your parents to help punch a small hole in the bottom of each can. From the outside, insert the string into each can. Tie several knots so the string does not slip back through, and then use your phone with a sibling. What happens when the string is loose? What happens when the string is taut?
- Visit your local library to find books on how sound travels. Report your findings.
- Find a book that explains how the telephone works.
- The study of electricity was a crucial ingredient to the development of the telephone. Research this topic. If possible, design a simple circuit.
- Bell went on to further experiments, including improvement on the phonograph, metal detectors, hydrofoils, advancements in flight, respirators, and an apparatus for making fresh water from saltwater. Pick one of these topics and look for further information on it. Draw your findings.
- Before Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, he worked with the hearing impaired. Teach yourself the alphabet in sign language.
- Bell was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, on March 3, 1847. Find this town on a map of Europe.
- When Alexander was 15 years old he went to London, England, to study. Then the family moved to Ontario, Canada. In 1871 Bell moved to Boston, Massachusetts, to teach hearing-impaired children. Mark these locations on a map.
- In 1877 Bell and his wife traveled to England so he could demonstrate the telephone for the Queen of England—Queen Victoria. Research and discover how many queens England has had since that time.
- Find out what you can about the United States Patent and Trademark Office. What is the average number of patents filed annually?
- What other inventors lived during Bell's lifetime? What other significant inventions were made?
- You live in Sacramento, California. Your best friend lives in Enid, Oklahoma. The year is 1877. How many miles of telegraph wire would need to be strung for a two-way telephone conversation?
- It costs $2 for the first three minutes of conversation, and 25 cents thereafter. If you and your brother talk on the phone for 37 minutes, how much will it cost you? If you are using a payphone, what is the least amount of coins you could use to pay for this call to your brother?
- Research the first payphones. How much did it cost to place a call? How much does it cost today? What is the rate of increase between the two?
- Your cell phone costs $78 and allows you 400 minutes of calling each month. What is the actual cost per minute?
- The first transcontinental phone call was placed in 1915 from New York to San Francisco, California. Alexander Bell telephoned his dear friend Thomas Watson. He used the same original sentence to greet him. What is the distance between these two states?
- Bell intently studied sound and speech. He even borrowed a human ear from a medical school. Research how the human ear works and draw a picture of the bones in the ear.
- Speech is important when it comes to communicating. Find books at your local library on what parts of the body are needed to produce speech. Report what you learn to your family.
- Find a book on Alexander Graham Bell that shows the progression of the telephone. Draw pictures of the various stages of how the phone changed in appearance.
- Create a card game that teaches others about famous inventors and inventions.
- Read 1 Samuel 3:1-16 about the night God called Samuel. Paint a picture of this event.
- Pretend you are Alexander Graham Bell and you are just starting up your phone company—the Bell Telephone Company. Design an insignia for your stationery.
- Design a poster for the Bell Telephone Company trying to encourage patrons to purchase a phone.
- Pretend you are on the brink of a famous invention. Sketch what your invention is. What does it do? How will it help people? Write a brief description of it.
- Bell's mother taught him to play the piano. This instrument helped him with his study of sound and how it travels. How many different tones does a piano have?
- If possible, play a piano or keyboard and listen for these different tones.
Jodie Wolfe and her husband have been married for twenty years. They have been homeschooling their two sons for twelve years. Jodie likes reading, writing and leading ladies Bible studies. She also enjoys encouraging women through her blog, Digging For Pearls at http://diggingforpearls.blogspot.com
This article was originally published in the Sep/Oct 2010 issue of Home School Enrichment Magazine. Request your own FREE sample copy by visiting http://HomeSchoolEnrichment.com.
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Sara Kurfess