Inspiring Stories: Early Thinkers
In the late 1890s, about one-third of the vehicles on the road in the United States were electric cars. Steam automobiles were the most popular. Gas-powered engines ranked third. In 1903, Oliver Fritchle began making electric storage batteries, and also repaired and built electric cars. He established the Fritchle Automobile & Battery Company in 1908, which built about 198 vehicles per year. Fritchle’s cars had a system that recharged the battery when a car coasted. The cars were efficient, but they were also expensive. The Ford Model T, which had a gas engine and was less expensive, soon became more popular than the electric car. Fritchle, ahead of his time, had to close his plant in 1916.
Although science is the setting of each of these books, they are actually about the people who work hard to learn something in a new field and then start a company in that field. There are five main examples in each book along with several other cases either in the text or pictures with brief captions. The entrepreneurs chosen cover a wide variety of individuals and include some very well-known figures that readers will have heard of already. Other examples come from around the world in a wide variety of technology areas important to that locality. The applications in each book do pull together under the topic though there are some that are mentioned in more than one book.
The first section of each book is “You can be an Entrepreneur!” This includes a definition of a start-up and an entrepreneur along with some history or an inspiring story. This is followed by five main sections of four pages introducing an application of the type of technology and an example of a start-up company. The last section consists of two parts; the first is “Entrepreneurs Changing the World” (except for Space Entrepreneurs) and “Your Start-Up Story”. These are both inspirational with further brief examples, suggestions for studying science and math, both necessary to make inventions, and a challenge to try out.
Each book is a good mix of text in small neat sections, pictures to illustrate the concept(s) being presented and lots of pictures of the people involved in the area discussed with captions explaining why they are important or some background. The table of contents highlights the examples by giving them an orange background. Each book has a glossary, index and both books and websites where more information can be found. There is an approximately equal mix of the science and the people making progress with a focus on how any of us can accomplish firsts, find solutions and start a business to bring our invention to the public.
Energy is central to our lives and something that we tend to ignore as it is ubiquitous. Even so someone had to invent and develop each of those technologies. In Energy Entrepreneurs, the first example is biofuel, using garbage, agricultural waste, dung or the invasive plant water hyacinths to create energy to cook. The people involved are in India, Vietnam, Switzerland and Uganda. The next section looks at low-emission driving including bio diesel and electric cars including Elon Musk, Arthur Kay making fuel out of coffee grounds, and a Dutch company making solar powered cars. Solar power also dominates the next section and then geothermal power being used in Palestine. The final area is using capacitors to store power. The concluding section is very forward-looking with possible future sources of environmental energy.
This series is aimed at both technology and business students. For those interested in engineering, they can see that there are ways to apply this knowledge to start a company and get products out to the world. For those who want to go into business, the series suggests that ideas can come from many areas of technology and that entrepreneurs can find a niche where they can provide something that no one else has yet discovered. In both ways, these are inspirational books, encouraging a crossover between subjects that can only help the student and our society in finding ways to help people here and around the world.
The books in the series work well together and would make a wonderful addition to a school library. Even personal libraries would benefit from two or more books on the topics most in line with the interests of the child.
Willow Moonbeam is a cataloguing librarian with many hobbies who enjoys learning new things. Living in Toronto allows consumption of many and varied interests.