Benjamin Franklin's Inventions Quiz

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About This Quiz

As if being a Founding Father weren't enough to keep him busy, Benjamin Franklin also invented an astounding number of things, many of which are still used today. How much do you know about the many inventions of Benjamin Franklin?

Why did Franklin invent an extendable device for reaching and grabbing things?

Franklin's main goal with the device was to be able to grab his library books.

What was the device called?

The Long Arm is still in use today all over the world, sometimes known as the Nifty Nabber.

Franklin developed an odometer. How many revolutions of a carriage wheel equaled 1 mile (1.6 kilometers)?

Franklin discovered that his carriage wheels went around 400 times per mile.

Franklin used the odometer to measure the distance between …

Franklin was the first postmaster general of the Colonies, and he used the odometer to develop efficient postal routes.

Franklin's devotion to swimming and his invention of this device earned him a spot in the International Swimming Hall of Fame.

Franklin invented hand-held wooden swim paddles.

Franklin obviously didn't invent electricity, but he proved this fact, which paved the way for countless electrical inventions.

Franklin had a hunch that lightning was a form of electricity, and he was able to prove it.

What did Franklin use for his famous experiment to prove this theory?

The enduring image of Franklin is with a kite and key in hand.

This invention of Franklin's dramatically decreased losses by fire all over the globe.

Lightning rods made life drastically safer.

What was the main difference between Franklin's lightning rod and other rods?

Franklin's lightning rods were pointed, as opposed to the blunt-tip rods used in England.

This invention was Franklin's lasting contribution to the field of optometry.

Franklin invented bifocals.

Which eye condition was Franklin's inspiration for his invention of bifocals?

Franklin had presbyopia, meaning he was both near- and far-sighted.

Franklin devised a new phonetic alphabet that would do away with the letters C, J, W, Y, Q and …

Franklin considered C, J, W, Y, Q and X to be redundant letters.

This was Franklin's first invention.

Franklin swam a lot when he was a boy. To help him swim faster, he created oval-shaped wooden paddles with a hole in the center.

How old was he when he came up with the paddles?

He was only 11 when he made his first swim paddles.

In which river did he swim when he was a boy?

Franklin grew up in Boston near the Charles River. Later in life he'd regularly swim in the Thames in London.

Why did Franklin decide that the paddles actually weren't that great after all?

After a while, Franklin discovered that the paddles hurt his wrists.

In 1741, Franklin invented what is now known as the Franklin stove. What was Franklin's original name for it?

The Pennsylvania fireplace (or at least the underlying idea of it) revolutionized the way people heated their homes.

What was so great about the Franklin stove?

Franklin stoves are enclosed iron boxes that heat homes much more efficiently and with less smoke than drafty fireplaces.

Another inventor made drastic improvements to the Franklin stove, but the Franklin name stuck. What might the stove be called today if it had taken the second inventor's name?

David Rittenhouse solved the problem of Franklin's faulty inverted siphon, but the Franklin name was there to stay.

Franklin is credited with inventing political cartooning. Which animal was featured in his first, and most famous, cartoon?

The "Join, Or Die" cartoon was a cry for colonial unity that depicted a snake cut into several sections.

"Join, Or Die" was printed in this newspaper published by Franklin.

Franklin was the founder of the Pennsylvania Gazette.

Bach and Beethoven composed pieces on this now-obscure instrument that Franklin invented.

The glass armonica is long out of vogue, but Franklin was very proud of it.

Franklin got the idea for the glass armonica by watching people in England play music with …

Playing music on wine glasses was all the rage in England, and Franklin's glass armonica consolidated the practice into a single instrument.

Franklin invented a flexible catheter to help his brother, who suffered from …

Franklin's brother, John, had kidney stones and had to use an inflexible catheter every day.

What was Franklin's catheter made from?

A silversmith assisted in Franklin's development of the catheter.

Franklin devised a major improvement to these public fixtures that made them much more effective.

Eighteenth-century street lamps got dirty quickly and thus dimmed quickly. Franklin invented a new, brighter street lamp with better air flow.

Which of these electrical terms was NOT coined by Franklin?

"Amperes" is not a Franklin term, but the rest are.

How many patents did Franklin hold?

Franklin never patented any of his inventions. He thought "that as we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours, and this we should do freely and generously."

Franklin considered this to be his most important invention.

Franklin was most proud of his invention of the lightning rod.

But this, he said, was his favorite invention.

"Of all my inventions," Franklin said, "the glass armonica has given me the greatest personal satisfaction."

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