Magical Moments: Invention Convention - SLO Classical Academy
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Welcome to Down Home, San Luis Obispo Classical Academy’s blog! We are a classical school offering several options to make our education work for families with infants through high schoolers. Our signature hybrid program, which is part-time classroom and part-time home instruction, provides an engaging education for preschool through middle school (with full time options available). We also have a university model high school. This blog is meant to support and encourage on the home front because, in so many ways, the heart of what happens at SLO Classical Academy happens down home.

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Magical Moments: Invention Convention

{photo by Jamie Foster}

We celebrated the end of Trimester 2 with our Invention Convention, and it was such a pleasure to walk around and see the projects our kids made! They were eager to share their discoveries and creations, and clearly enjoyed the process of studying the inventions of the 18th century. 

We wanted to share one particular science project story with you today for our Magical Moment. This comes from the Cole family – Laura and Kyle Cole, and their daughter Emily (LMS) are a track A4 family in their second year at SLOCA. Emily really connected with her inventor in a special way, and Laura Cole wrote to tell us about it:

When we began doing research on Joseph Bramah for the Invention Convention there were many choices since he secured 18 patents on a variety of inventions during his lifetime.  The one that struck us as most interesting was the Bramah Lock Mechanism which he patented and challenged anyone to pick.  (It wasn't until over 60 years later, long after he died, that an American locksmith, Alfred Charles Hobbs, finally got into it after a struggle that lasted 51 hours spread over 16 days without witnesses.  To this day it is a mystery how he did it.)  The Bramah lock is still called today the “unpickable lock” since it would take someone 1 in 500,000 chances to pick it without a key.  

However, what we found most interesting is that the Bramah lock is still manufactured today in London, 230 years after Joseph Bramah started producing and selling them.  With this in mind we searched for the company's website and Emy wrote an e-mail from her e-mail account asking if they would mind donating a Bramah Lock for her project.  Since she needed to have a model of the invention anyway we thought “What would be better than the real thing?” 

After that we forgot about it, not even checking her e-mail in-box. Since Bramah is the oldest and probably the highest quality lock company in the world, serving high end jewelry stores in London and probably royalty at Buckingham Palace, we didn’t really expect to get a response, especially for a 5th grade kid on the other side of the planet… but we were pleasantly surprised! We received a notice in our physical mailbox to pick up a package at the Post Office.  What a surprise to get a real working Bramah lock with key!  Quickly checking Emy's e-mail inbox we discovered two e-mails sent; one from the Locksmith Administrator of the company and another sent directly from the Managing Director of Bramah Locks and Alarms, Jeremy Bramah!  (Must be a direct decendent of Joseph Bramah!)  You can click the links if you’d like to read the responses.

The Bramah lock and key – note that Joseph Bramah's signature is stamped on the key.

Later today we are sending thank you e-mails to both the Locksmith Administrator and Jeremy Bramah in London to thank them by sending pictures from the Invention Convention and the IEW paper Emily wrote on Bramahs’s Burglar Proof Lock.  This project was an exciting and memorable experience that we will never forget!

Photos of other student projects about Bramah, (his hydraulic press), which Laura and Emily sent to Jeremy Bramah to show their appreciation.
{photos by Laura Cole}

Emily and her science classmates {photo by Laura Cole}

Thank you Emily and Laura, for sharing your story! It’s wonderful to make connections to the past in such a tangible way, and to see first hand the lasting importance of an inventor’s work.

Here are more photos from our memorable evening together. We wish we could include everyone! All photos taken by Jamie Foster – thank you, Jamie!

Do you have a magical moment to share with our community? Please email [email protected] and tell us about it!

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