Creative Hero Alexander Graham Bell is best known for inventing the first usable telephone. But you may not know that when Bell passed away in 1922, his name was listed on 30 different patents, the telephone being just one. His insatiable curiosity and drive to understand and improve the tools of his time is one reason we consider Bell a Creative Hero, but there’s more to Bell than meets the eye – er… ear. Alexander Graham Bell actually devoted most of his career – and his life – to bettering the lives of those living in the deaf community. Let’s learn more:
Bell – Child Inventor
Alexander Graham Bell, aka Aleck, was born in Scotland in 1847. A curious child, Aleck was schooled at home and spent his free time studying plants, building machines, and, yes, conducting experiments. At the age of 12, he designed a corn stalk de-husker that would be used for years on his best friend’s family farm. In exchange for his revolutionary, time-saving machine, his friend’s father presented Aleck with his very own workshop space in the mill. Much later, his family would move to Canada, where Aleck would reconstruct this “dreaming place” on his family’s property.
Bell – Devoted Son
Around the same time, Aleck’s mother began to lose her hearing. Aleck’s father and grandfather were well known for their work in speech and elocution (the art of ultra-clear pronunciation) and Aleck followed in their footsteps, devoting his career to studying and researching speech, hearing, and acoustics. He spent his lifetime experimenting with devices designed to help people hear better – one of which led to his invention of the telephone.
Bell – Teacher
Although a fairly terrible student, Aleck eventually became a teacher, beginning his official career as a teacher of elocution. He would eventually move on to teaching his father’s Visible Speech System to students who could neither hear nor speak, including the famed Hellen Keller. Aleck even opened his own school, where he taught hundreds of deaf students. Aleck’s devotion to helping the deaf lead more fulfilling lives by enabling them to communicate without using sign language is the true mark of a Creative Hero.
Bell – Inventor
Although teaching took up the majority of his time, Aleck couldn’t help but tinker and never let a lack of knowledge, experience, or equipment get in his way. In addition to inventing the telephone, he is also credited with creating the first photophone, which would later lead to radio transmissions, an early version of the metal detector, and airplane designs including the first hydrofoil. It is said that Aleck read the encyclopedia in bed each night, looking for inspiration.
Be Like Bell!
Alexander Graham Bell is a true Creative Hero. His curiosity, perseverance, and passion made a real difference in the world and in the lives of those around him – and you can, too! Here’s how:
1. Look for Opportunities to Make Things Better! From the way your mom loads the dishwasher to a better system for washing the dog, find little ways to improve the things you and your family do every day.
2. Don’t Believe It Can’t Be Done! Aleck actually misunderstood some important research he read about conveying sounds with electricity and thought another inventor had done what he needed to do. In fact, that inventor had tried, and failed. But Aleck didn’t know that, tried it anyway, and succeeded!
3. Be Willing to Learn! If you don’t know how to do something, ask someone, look it up online, or find a book about it at the library. Put in a bit of time and you’ll be amazed at what you can do.