Saturday, March 19, 2011

Philo T. Farnsworth

The students chose a famous American to do their March speech on.  Gavin chose Philo T. Farnsworth for several reasons.  He was an inventor and Gavin loves inventions.  He lived in Idaho on a farm just like Gavin’s grandpa and later moved to San Francisco like our family did.  He also attended BYU.  I read online that Philo Farnsworth is arguably the most influential BYU graduate of all time.  So why don’t you know what he did? 

For whatever reason, Philo T. Farnsworth is TV’s forgotten hero.  He spent the greater part of his life improving his invention of the television but eventually let other companies take over this process so maybe that’s why people don’t remember he was actually the one to invent television. 

He loved science and loved to read science magazines.  One day he found a science magazine in the attic that talked about television.  It said that in the future there would be flying pictures.  Instead of sitting around watching the radio (which is how people listened to radio shows – they stared at the radio) people could see these flying pictures.  Philo wanted to make that happen so he did. 

At the age of 14 he was plowing the field when the lines from the plow sparked an idea in his mind.  He thought that he could make images appear on a screen one line at a time.  (That was the part I remember learning in my 7th grade Utah Studies class!)  Anyway, Philo was always tinkering around and figuring things out and talking a mile a minute to anyone who would listen to him.  His high school science teacher would listen to Philo’s ideas after school until one day he told Philo to be careful with what he said in case someone tried to steal his ideas.  Years later RCA tried to say that Philo stole their idea for the television.  Mr. Tolman, the science teacher, found a picture Philo had drawn for him years earlier.  It proved that Philo was the one who had the idea for the invention first. 

Soon after that Philo was able to get patents on his invention.  When the patents expired decades later and he was exhausted from putting so much effort into television he allowed other companies to take television and run with it.  After dealing with pneumonia, he died of heart complications at the age of 65. 

He wasn’t some nerdy guy with zero social skills who could only talk science.  He played musical instruments and joined a band.  He also acted in many plays while he was at BYU.  He dated a girl who dumped him because she wanted to be with someone who was going somewhere with his life!  After that girl he dated another girl he liked to call Pem.  Some men were interested in helping Philo finance his television idea but insisted that they all work together in California.  Philo called Pem and asked her if she could be ready to get married in three days.  She was stressed out by the short timing but they got married in three days and the day after they were on a train for Los Angeles.  They worked in LA for a while then moved to San Francisco. 

Philo Farnsworth Plaque

Heath took this picture because he only works a block away from Farnsworth’s Green Street Lab. 

Philo not only invented the television, he invented many things like the isolette cribs hospitals use for preemies.  A doctor had asked him to come up with something for premature babies.  He was a family man, deeply in love with his wife and children, and a hard worker.  He always looked older than he was because he had so much on his mind or, as an adult, he was so crazy busy.  I think he worked himself to death. 

For all these amazing things we learned about the teen who invented television, Gavin didn’t say hardly anything in his speech!  He got nervous in the beginning and tried to read his poster then he gained enough confidence to face the class and just talk but he didn’t say much.  I’m disappointed because Gavin knows these facts.  We’ve been discussing it for a couple weeks now and talking about what we both found interesting in the books we read.  I read one book in the library before I checked it out. 

I’m kind of sad that Gavin didn’t shine more.  He’s a great kid though.  He loves to learn.  And bless his heart he wrote a lot about Philo that I put on the poster.  The poster wanted a lot of information in tiny little boxes.  Gavin wrote so much and has such large handwriting that I wrote it for him so it was legible.  I made him turn in the papers he wrote so his teacher could see his hard work. 

I sure do love this kid!

4 thoughts:

Dawn said...

I hope my 6th graders are as confident in their reports as Gavin is. He is amazing. I love how he likes to learn. I just read a biography about Fransworth the other day myself, how strange is that. Keep on learning Gavin!

The Piquant Storyteller said...

That is strange that you just read a biography on Farnsworth! You must have known somehow that Gavin was learning about him.

I didn't remember much about him from my Utah Studies class in junior high so it was really cool to learn more about him. He was an amazing person.

Ed said...

Well, I for one am certainly grateful for his invention of the isolette. Thanks Mr. Farnsworth.

Gavin is such a cute boy. He looked so confident even though he forgot what he was going to say.
-Candi

The Piquant Storyteller said...

I knew you'd like that one Candi.

Gavin sure is a fun little guy. I like watching him do these speeches.