Inventions Of Thomas Jefferson.
Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Here is the project
Rotating Bookshelf
Rotating Bookshelf

external image polygraph.jpg
Modern Recreation of the Wheel Cipher
Modern Recreation of the Wheel Cipher
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Focus Questions:
Why Did Thomas Jefferson decide to become a inventor and politician?
Did Jefferson make famous inventions, and if so, what was his Most Famous Invention?
When did Thomas Jefferson make his first invention?
What is his best invention (in my opinion).
Answer: So far, in my opinion, his best invention is the wheel cipher, since it is the most creative, while simply complex.

Inventions include:
  • Rotating Book shelf that holds 5 books
  • A Wheel Cipher, which could help send messages. You would rotate the wheel until it spelled out the message you wanted to. Then you would have to look a line or 2 above to form a secret code. If the message was AARONLEVETTISCOOL, the secret code in the mail may say "XZYSEMVTBFFEUJIOD" You then would look around to find a message that made sense.
  • Served first Mac-and Cheese at a formal dinner.
  • All wheel ciphers contained the letters in the same order. Jefferson only gave these to people he could trust not to be spies.
  • Created a spherical sundial, which could tell time based on sun. First recorded sundial in North America.
  • Great Clock designed by Thomas Jefferson. On Outside of house (plantation) there is just an hour hand. He thought that this was fine for the laboreres, so they could know their shift. The clock also faced the inside, which a Chinese gong was hit on each hour to tell the time. It was loud enough for slaves to hear it 3 miles away. This also told the day of the week.
  • 1-29 Notes: Created a polygraph, a letter copying device.
  • The Polygraph had 2 pens attached to it, which they were connected. Other inventions similar are one door that opens 2 doors at once, through an extensive series of weights.
  • Created the "moldboard of least resistance". This was a farming tool. It was used so you could do more work with soil, without using as much of your energy. Basically a more efficient plow. He never got a patent for this, and he just gave copies away to his family and friends.
  • New Fact 2-4-10: Jefferson also invented automatic double doors. These worked, by complex series of mechanics, which is when one door opens or closes, the other goes with it.
  • He also improved a revolving chair, by adding arm and feet rests, so it would be easier for him to write.
  • He made improvements to a dumbwaiter, which will be explained in my project,
  • Jefferson rarely patented his inventions. He wanted them to be used for helpfulness, not for profit
  • Polygraph: By the end of his life, he copied over 18,000 letters.
  • University of Virginia: Jefferson started this campus, and had designed/invented the architecture of the rotunda building, which was inspired from Rome
  • Jefferson even designed his own tombstone before he died. In a drawing, he wrote what he wished to put on there, and where exactly it was to be located..
  • It reads: Here was buried, Thomas Jefferson, author of the declaration of American independence of the state of Virginia for religious freedom and father of the university of Virginia.This is specifically what Jefferson intended to be written on his grave. He purposely left out the fact that he was the 3rd president of the most wonderful united states of America.

Bernstein, Richard B. Thomas Jefferson. New York: Oxford UP, 2003. Print.

Weekly Reflections:
Week of 1-18 to 1-22: So far, I have researched 3 of thomas Jeffersons inventions. These are the rotating book shelf, a wheel cipher, and the "great clock". Another semi-invention that Thomas Jefferson made was the 1st macaroni and cheese, with the newly designed macaroni maker. So far I have found about 5 sources (listed above), and are still yet to find a book on his inventions. I started my powerpoint with a title slide and an intro slide (started before I learned that we weren't supposed to yet. I have not yet, but will be gathering info about 2 more of his inventions, the polygraph (not a lie detector), and the dumbwaiter. So far, I am enjoying looking at his inventions, but I am not totally favoring the whole project in general, with the notes, sources, and reflections. The most interesting invention, in my opinion is the wheel cipher.

Week 0f 1-25 to 1-29:
This week, I researched 2 more of Thomas Jefferson's inventions, and I learned a little bit more about him as a person. I first learned about the polygraph, which is a device for copying letters. This consists of 2 pens attached together, while one person writing, to duplicate it. I also learned about his moldboard, which was a plow used to do more farming, with less of your effort/energy being used. Besides inventions, I learned that Thomas Jefferson did not want to patent his designs for a reason. This was so that people could use his inventions for society, not just himself. I think that was very kind of him.So far, my favorite invention he made was the wheel cipher, but I still have more yet to learn. I am enjoying this project a little bit more now.
Weeks of 2-1-2-5 and 2-7 to 2-11
As of these weeks, I am almost finished with my research and ready to start my powerpoint presentation. My presentation will be divided into different sections to be organized. More inventions that i learned about, were Jefferson's automatic double doors, which you can read about above, and also a newly improved dumbwaiter (something to carry wine). After I get pictures for these, my presentation will begin, and will hope to progress on my project even more.
Week of 2-21 to 2-27:
This week I started my PowerPoint, and I put 2 books about Jefferson, so I can get resources outside of websites. They are called Thomas Jefferson by R.B Bernstein, and Thomas Jefferson; author inventor, president by carol Greene. This will hopefully get me some more information for my project that I can use. The first slide of my PowerPoint, after the title is as follows:
Many of you know Thomas Jefferson as just that rich republican guy who was our 3rd president.
In fact, inventing things was just one of his hobbies.
He rarely got paid, because he never patented his inventions. He wanted people to use them and improve on them, without expense.

That slide was covering why Jefferson decided to invent things while being a politician. More sample slides and notes coming soon.
Week of 3-1 to 3-7:
I am currently reading a book about Thomas Jefferson, that has a few detailed descriptions of some of his inventions, such as the polygraph, the letter copier. I have also learned about his architectural influence on the University of Virginia, and where he got his inspiration from. So far, I have added 3 new slides on my PowerPoint. 2 with complex detail and info about the wheel cipher, and 1 is a quick fact about Jefferson's macaroni and cheese, entitled quick fact. Now I am slowing down my research, and working more on the project.

Week of 3-8: This week I only did a little bit of research, but I made significant improvements to my PowerPoint presentation. I added info on the wiki (as well as my PowerPoint), about the specifics of Thomas Jefferson's personally designed grave. In my presentation, I went into more thorough information about the rotating bookshelf, without just saying that the slots were rectangular, and it held five books. In total, I added 3 more slides to my presentation, but made them high quality. I am starting to slow down my research,
Week of 3-15: This week I took Mary's, and Madison's advice about adding pictures. There are now pictures on all 10 of my PowerPoint slides (I am still adding more slides to this PowerPoint.) I added two more descriptive slides talking how my favorite invention (the wheel cipher), was a good invention, but how I think that it would not be a good idea today, because of all of the technology we use today, could crack the code for these, and ruin it. My PowerPoint should be done very soon.

Groupmate Comments:
1/31/10(mary's comment)- It looks like you have enough information, but try to add some pictures so people know what your talking about. Also try to find out why he made the inventions and when

2-3-10(Madison's comment)- You have a lot of notes in your wiki, which is really good. But, you could always get some more pictures on here to show all his inventions that you've researched about so far. But, your project is going to look really great when you're finished with all of your research.

3-13-10 (Madison's Comment)- I like all the pictures you've added about all of Thomas Jefferson's inventions! Your powerpoint sounds very interesting from what you've told us so far. I can't wait to see it when it's due. You have a ton of notes which is great to continue working on your powerpoint. Don't forget to add pictures to that, too so that we get a visual about the inventions that you're telling us about. Good Job!