Invention at Play



- Gallery Guide (PDF file; 1.5 MB)
- Family Guide (PDF file; 900 K)
- Family Guide en Español (PDF file; 300 K)
- Educators' Manual (PDF file; 2 MB)

Selected Bibliography

Alliance of Artists’ Communities. American Creativity at Risk: Restoring Creativity as a Priority in Public Policy, Cultural Philanthropy, and Education. Portland, Ore.: Alliance of Artists’ Communities, 1996.

Amabile, Theresa M., and Stanley S. Gryskiewicz. Creativity in the R&D Laboratory. Greensboro, N.C.: Center for Creative Leadership, 1991.

Auerbach, Stevanne. Dr. Toy's Smart Play: How to Raise a Child with a High PQ (Play Quotient). New York: St. Martin's Press, 1998.

——, F.A.O. Schwarz: Toys for a Lifetime: Enhancing Childhood Through Play. New York: Universe Books, 1999.

Bedi, Joyce. “Lady Edisons: Women Inventors in the 20th Century.” Inventors’ Digest (September/October 1999): 18-23.

Bekoff, Marc. “Playing with Play: What Can We Learn About Cognition, Negotiation, and Evolution?” In The Evolution of Mind, eds. Denise Dellarosa Cummins and Colin Allen, 162-182. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.

Beretta, Shirley, and Gayle Privette. “Influence of Play on Creative Thinking.” Perceptual and Motor Skills 71 (1990): 659-666.

Boden, Margaret A. The Creative Mind: Myths and Mechanisms. New York: Basic Books, 1991.

——, ed. Dimensions of Creativity. Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press, 1994.

Bransford, John D., and Barry S. Stein. The Ideal Problem Solver. New York: W. H. Freeman and Co., 1984.

Brosterman, Norman. Inventing Kindergarten. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1997.

Brown, David E. Inventing Modern America: From the Microwave to the Mouse. Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press, 2002.

Brown, Kenneth A. Inventors at Work: Interviews with 16 Notable American Inventors. Redmond, Wash.: Tempus Books of Microsoft Press, 1988.

Bruce, Robert V. Bell: Alexander Graham Bell and the Conquest of Solitude. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1973.

Carlson, W. Bernard. “Building Thomas Edison's Laboratory at West Orange, New Jersey: A Case Study in Using Craft Knowledge for Technological Invention, 1886-1888.” History of Technology 13 (1991): 150-167.

——. “Interpreting Invention as a Cognitive Process: The Case of Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, and the Telephone.” Science, Technology, and Human Values 15 (1990): 131-164.

Ceppi, Giulio, and Michele Zini, eds. Children, Spaces, Relations: Metaproject for an Environment for Young Children. Milan, Italy: Domus Academy Research Center, 1998.

Coe, Lewis. The Telegraph: A History of Morse’s Invention and Its Predecessors in the United States. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland and Company, Inc., Publishers, 1993.

Cohen, David. The Development of Play. London: Routledge, 1993.

Cross, Gary. Kids’ Stuff: Toys and the Changing World of American Childhood. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1997.

Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly. Creativity: Flow and The Psychology of Discovery and Invention. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1996.

Dasgupta, Subrata. Creativity in Invention and Design: Computational and Cognitive Explorations of Technological Originality. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994.

——. Technology and Creativity. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.
The David and Lucile Packard Foundation. “Children and Computer Technology.” The Future of Children 10, no. 2 (fall/winter 2000).

Eber, Dorothy Harley. Genius at Work: Images of Alexander Graham Bell. New York: The Viking Press, 1982.

Feldman, David Henry, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, and Howard Gardner. Changing the World: A Framework for the Study of Creativity. Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 1994.

Ferguson, Eugene S. Engineering and the Mind’s Eye. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1992.

Friedel, Robert D., and Paul Israel, with Bernard S. Finn. Edison's Electric Light: Biography of an Invention. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1986.

Gardner, Howard. Creating Minds: An Anatomy of Creativity Seen Through the Lives of Freud, Einstein, Picasso, Stravinsky, Eliot, Graham, and Gandhi. New York: Basic Books, 1993.

——. “Creativity: An Interdisciplinary Perspective.” Creativity Research Journal 1 (1988): 8-26.

Getzels, Jacob W. “Problem Finding and the Inventiveness of Solution.” Journal of Creative Behavior 9 (1975): 12-118.

Ghiselin, Brewster, ed. The Creative Process: Reflections on Invention in the Arts and Sciences. Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 1985.

Goldstein, Jeffrey H., ed. Toys, Play and Child Development. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1994.

Gopnik, Alison, Andrew N. Meltzoff, and Patricia K. Kuhl. The Scientist in the Crib: Minds, Brains, and How Children Learn. New York: William Morrow & Co., 1999.

Gorman, Michael E., and Julia K. Kagiwada. “Invention, Design, and Discovery: A Transdisciplinary Quest.” New Literary History 26 (1995): 627-640.

Gruber, Howard E., Glenn Terrell, and Michael Wertheimer, eds. Contemporary Approaches to Creative Thinking. New York: Atherton Press, 1963.

Hewitt, Karen, and Louise Roomet. Educational Toys in America: 1800 to the Present. Burlington, Vt.: The Robert Hull Fleming Museum, University of Vermont, 1979.

Hindle, Brook. Emulation and Invention. New York: New York University Press, 1981.

Hirshberg, Jerry. The Creative Priority: Driving Innovative Business in the Real World. New York: HarperBusiness, 1998.

Hoffreth, Sandra L., and Jack Sandberg. Changes in Children’s Time, 1981-1997. Ann Harbor, Mich.: Institution for Social Research, University of Michigan, 1998.

Hughes, Fergus P. Children, Play, and Development. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1999.

Huizinga, Johan. Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play Element in Culture. Boston: The Beacon Press, 1955.

Israel, Paul B. Edison: A Life of Invention. New York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 1998.

——. From the Machine Shop to the Industrial Laboratory: Telegraphy and the Changing Context of American Invention, 1830-1920. Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992.

Ives, Patricia Carter. Creativity and Inventions: The Genius of Afro-Americans and Women in the United States and Their Patents. Arlington, Va.: Research Unlimited, 1987.

James, Portia P. The Real McCoy: African-American Invention and Innovation, 1619-1930. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1989.

John-Steiner, Vera. Notebooks of the Mind: Explorations of Thinking. Albuquerque, N.Mex.: University of New Mexico Press, 1985.

Johnson, James E., James F. Christie, and Thomas D. Yawkey. Play and Early Childhood Development. New York: Longman, 1999.

Kafai, Yasmin, and Mitchel Resnick, eds. Constructionism in Practice: Designing, Thinking, and Learning in a Digital World. Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1996.

Kelley, Tom, with Jonathan Littman. The Art of Innovation: Lessons in Creativity from IDEO, America’s Leading Design Firm. New York: Currency Books, 2001.

Kiely, Thomas. “The Idea Makers.” Technology Review 96 (January 1993): 32-40.

Kock, Winston E. The Creative Engineer: The Art of Inventing. New York: Plenum Press, 1978.

Maccoby, Michael, Ronald K. Jurgen, Tekla S. Perry, and George F. Watson. “Innovative Genius: The Innovative Mind at Work.” IEEE Spectrum 28 (December 1991): 22-35.

Macdonald, Anne L. Feminine Ingenuity: Women and Invention in America. New York: Ballantine Books, 1992.

Mergen, Bernard. “Made, Bought, and Stolen: Toys and the Culture of Childhood.” In Small Worlds: Children and Adolescents in America 1850-1950, eds. Elliott West and Paula Petrik, 86-106. Lawrence, Kans.: University Press of Kansas, 1992.

——. Play and Playthings. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1982.

Miller, Arthur I. Insights of Genius: Imagery and Creativity in Science and Art. New York: Copernicus, 1996.

Mokyr, Joel. The Lever of Riches: Technological Creativity and Economic Progress. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990.

Mowery, David C., and Nathan Rosenberg. Paths of Innovation: Technological Change in 20th-Century America. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

National Inventors Hall of Fame. The 2000 National Inventors Hall of Fame Commemorative Book. Akron, Ohio: National Inventors Hall of Fame, 2000.

Perkins, David N. The Mind’s Best Work. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1981.

Pesce, Mark. The Playful World: How Technology is Transforming Our Imagination. New York: Ballantine Books, 2000.

Petroski, Henry. Invention by Design: How Engineers Get from Thought to Thing. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1996.

——. “Work and Play.” American Scientist 87 (1999): 208-212.

Piaget, Jean. Biology and Knowledge: An Essay on the Relations Between Organic Regulations and Cognitive Processes. Translated by Beatrix Walsh. Chicago, Ill.: University of Chicago Press, 1971.

Platt, Richard. Smithsonian Visual Timeline of Inventions. London: Dorling Kindersley, 1994.

Pretzer, William S., ed. Working at Inventing: Thomas A. Edison and the Menlo Park Experience. Dearborn, Mich.: Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village, 1989.
Rabinow, Jacob. Inventing for Fun and Profit. San Francisco: San Francisco Press, Inc., 1990.

Resnick, Mitchel. “Technologies for Lifelong Kindergarten.” Educational Technology Research and Development 46, no. 4 (1998).

Resnick, Mitchel, Robbie Berg, and Michael Eisenberg. “Beyond Black Boxes: Bringing Transparency and Aesthetics Back to Scientific Investigation.” Journal of the Learning Sciences 9 (2000): 7-30.

Richardson, Jacques G., ed. Windows on Creativity and Invention. Mount Airy, Md.: Lomond, 1988.

Rogers, Cosby S., and Janet K. Sawyers. Play in the Lives of Children. Washington, D.C.: National Association for the Education of Young Children, 1988.

Root-Bernstein, Michèle and Robert. “Imagination and the Museum: Sparking Genius in a Children’s Museum.” Hand to Hand 16 (spring 2001): 1-5.

——. Sparks of Genius: The Thirteen Thinking Tools of the World’s Most Creative People. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1999.

Root-Bernstein, Robert Scott. “Creative Process As a Unifying Theme of Human Cultures.” Daedalus 113 (1984): 197-219.

——. Discovering, Inventing and Solving Problems at the Frontiers of Science. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1989.

Root-Bernstein, Robert S., Maurine Bernstein, and Helen Garnier. “Correlations between Avocations, Scientific Style, Work Habits, and Professional Impact of Scientists.” Creativity Research Journal 8, no. 2 (1995): 115-137.

Rothenberg, Albert. The Emerging Goddess: The Creative Process in Art, Science, and Other Fields. Chicago, Ill.: University of Chicago Press, 1979.

Rothschild, Joan, ed. Women, Technology and Innovation. Oxford, England: Pergamon Press, 1982.

Runco, Mark A. Problem Finding, Problem Solving, and Creativity. Norwood, N.J.: Ablex, 1994.

——, ed. “Creativity from Childhood Through Adulthood: The Developmental Issue.” New Directions for Child Development 72 (1996).

Runco, Mark A., and Robert S. Albert, eds. Theories of Creativity. Newbury Park, Calif.: Sage Publications, 1990.

Russ, Sandra W., Andrew L. Robins, and Beth A. Christiano. “Pretend Play: Longitudinal Prediction of Creativity and Affect in Fantasy in Children.” Creativity Research Journal 12, no. 2 (1999): 129-139.

Saracho, Olivia N., and Bernard Spodek, eds. Multiple Perspectives on Play in Early Childhood Education. Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press, 1998.

Schrage, Michael. Serious Play: How the World’s Best Companies Simulate to Innovate. Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2000.

Singer, Dorothy G. and Jerome L. The House of Make-Believe: Children's Play and the Developing Imagination. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1990.

Smith, Peter K. “Does Play Matter? Functional and Evolutionary Aspects of Animal and Human Play.” Behavioral and Brain Sciences 5 (1982): 139-184.

Standage, Tom. The Victorian Internet: The Remarkable Story of the Telegraph and the 19th Century’s On-Line Pioneers. New York: Walker and Company, 1998.

Stanley, Autumn. Mothers and Daughters of Invention: Notes for a Revised History of Technology. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1993.

Sternberg, Robert J., ed. The Nature of Creativity: Contemporary Psychological Perspectives. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988.

Sutton-Smith, Brian. The Ambiguity of Play. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1997.

——. A History of Children’s Play. Philadelphia, Pa.: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1981.

——. “The Role of Toys in the Instigation of Playful Creativity.” Creativity Research Journal 5 (1992): 3-11.

——. Toys as Culture. New York: Gardner Press, Inc., 1986.

Topal, Cathy W., and Lella Gandini. Beautiful Stuff: Learning with Found Materials. Worcester, Mass.: Davis Publications, Inc., 1999.

Wallace, Doris B., and Howard E. Gruber, eds. Creative People at Work: Twelve Cognitive Case Studies. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989.

Wartella, Ellen, Barbara O’Keefe, and Ronda Scantlin. Growing Up with Interactive Media: What We Know and What We Don’t About the Impact of New Media on Children. New York: John and Mary Markle Foundation, 2000.

Weber, Robert J. Forks, Phonographs, and Hot Air Balloons: A Field Guide to Inventive Thinking. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992.

Weber, Robert J., and David N. Perkins, eds. Inventive Minds: Creativity in Technology. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992.

Weiner, Robert Paul. Creativity and Beyond: Cultures, Values, and Change. Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press, 2000.

Weisberg, Robert W. Creativity: Beyond the Myth of Genius. New York: W. H. Freeman, 1993.

Wilson, Frank R. The Hand: How Its Use Shapes the Brain, Language, and Human Culture. New York: Pantheon Books, 1998.

——. “Hand-Made Minds.” Waldorf Research Bulletin (fall 1999).

Especially for Younger Readers

“African American Inventors.” Cobblestone 13, no. 2 (February 1992).

Ardley, Neil. How Things Work: 100 Ways Parents and Kids Can Share the Secret of Technology. New York: Dorling Kindersley Publishers, 1997.

Blashfield, Jean F. Women Inventors, 4 vols. Minneapolis, Minn.: Capstone Press, 1996.

Caney, Steven. Steven Caney’s Invention Book. New York: Workman Publishing, 1985.

——. Steven Caney’s Kids’ America. New York: Workman Publishing, 1978.

Casey, Susan Mary. Women Invent: Two Centuries of Discoveries That Have Shaped Our World. Chicago, Ill.: Chicago Review Press, 1997.

Cook, James G., and the Thomas Alva Edison Foundation. The Thomas Edison Book of Easy and Incredible Experiments. New York: Dodd, Mead, 1988.

Erlbach, Arlene. The Kids’ Invention Book. Minneapolis, Minn.: Lerner Publications Co., 1997.

“Everybody Plays.” Click 2, no. 10 (December 1999).

Jones, Charlotte Foltz. Mistakes That Worked: Forty Familiar Inventions and How They Came To Be. New York: Doubleday, 1991.

Karnes, Frances A., and Suzanne M. Bean. Girls and Young Women Inventing. Minneapolis, Minn.: Free Spirit Pub., 1995.

King, David C. Thomas Alva Edison: The King of Inventors. Lowell, Mass.: Discovery Enterprises, 1995.

Macaulay, David, with Neil Ardley. The New Way Things Work. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1998.

McKissack, Patricia and Frederick. African-American Inventors. Brookfield, Conn.: Millbrook Press, 1994.

Quiri, Patricia Ryon. Alexander Graham Bell. New York: Franklin Watts, 1991.

Roberts, Royston and Jeanie. Lucky Science: Accidental Discoveries from Gravity to Velcro, With Experiments. New York: John Wiley, 1995.

Showell, Ellen H., and Fred M. B. Amram. From Indian Corn to Outer Space: Women Invent in America. Peterborough, N.H.: Cobblestone Publishing, 1995.

Sobey, Ed. Inventing Stuff. Palo Alto, Calif.: Dale Seymour Publications, 1996.

Sullivan, Otha Richard. African American Inventors. New York: Wiley, 1998.

——. African American Women Scientists and Inventors. New York: Wiley, 2002.

Taylor, Barbara. I Wonder Why Zippers Have Teeth and Other Questions About Inventions. New York: Kingfisher, 1995.

“Thomas Edison.” Cobblestone 1, no. 2 (February 1980).

Tucker, Tom. Brainstorm! The Stories of Twenty American Kid Inventors. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1995.

Wilkinson, Philip. 100 Greatest Inventions. Danbury, Conn.: Grolier Educational, 1997.

“Women Inventors.” Cobblestone 15, no. 6 (June 1994).

Zubrowski, Bernie. Blinkers and Buzzers: Building and Experimenting with Electricity and Magnetism. New York: Morrow Junior Books, 1991.

Video Resources

The Promise of Play, Stuart Brown and David Kennard, executive producrs. A production of The Institute for Play and InCA (Independent Communications Associates Inc.), 2000. Available through Direct Cinema Limited (

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Selected Websites

Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation
Continue your exploration of invention at the Lemelson Center's Web site. While you're there, be sure to check out the
Lemelson Center's Innovative Lives Program
Meet the inventors who have participated in the Lemelson Center's ”Innovative Lives” program for middle school students. Many of these inventors are featured in Invention at Play.

Lemelson-MIT Program's Invention Dimension Website
Visit the Lemelson-MIT Program's site featuring additional biographies of inventors.

MIT Media Lab's Lifelong Kindergarten Group
Learn about the Lifelong Kindergarten group at the MIT Media Lab, which aims to reinvent learning and education in a digital society.

Playful Invention and Exploration (PIE) Network
The Playful Invention and Exploration (PIE) Network provides fun activities as well as information on how to explore and invent with new technologies.

Science Museum of Minnesota
Try out some fun science activities online courtesy of the Science Museum
of Minnesota, our partner in developing the Invention at Play exhibition.

Dr. Toy's Advice on Children's Products
Stevanne Auerbach (a.k.a. Dr. Toy) provides children, parents, teachers, grandparents and other adults with information about award winning products for children.

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About Invention at Play

Invention at Play is a highly interactive, engaging and surprising traveling exhibit that focuses on the similarities between the way children and adults play and the creative processes used by innovators in science and technology. It departs from traditional representations of inventors as extraordinary geniuses who are “not like us‚” to celebrate the creative skills and processes that are familiar and accessible to all people. Visitors of all ages will experience various playful habits of mind that underlie invention.

National Museum of American History, Behring Center Invention Playhouse Inventors’ Stories Does play Matter? Exhibit Info Resources Contact Us Site Map Site Credits Lemelson Center