The Edison and Ford Winter Estates offers a unique combination of history, science, and literature that can be found nowhere else. This National Register Historic Site is one of the top most visited historic home sites in the nation and is a step back in time to the emergence of industrial and technological America as we know it today.
At the estates, we include educational information in our programs and tours that you can integrate back into your classroom. There are also materials provided to teachers and group leaders to prepare students with pre-visit study, a reading list and even a new orientation video which provides highlights of the field trip. This ensures that everyone involved gets the most out of their experience by letting the learning begin long before and continue after your visit to the estates.
Whether you decide to explore our 25 acres along the Caloosahatchee River and 15,000 square foot museum on your own or with one of our experienced tour guides, you will see why Thomas Edison and Henry Ford are two of the most influential figures in American history. Students will marvel at the historical objects and inventions that span antique automobiles, light bulbs, electric generators, phonographs and early motion picture projectors. They will see that much of today’s technologies your students have grown up with and love, such as iPods, movies and video games, all started with the inventions and interests of Edison, Ford and their friends.
Walk along the Caloosahatchee River as you imagine Fort Myers as it was before Thomas Edison arrived in 1885. At that time Fort Myers was primarily a stop for the cattlemen who were shipping cattle to Cuba. Learn how Edison changed Fort Myers from a town with 50 buildings and 200 residences with no roads, electricity, or railroads into what it is today. See the largest Banyan tree in the United States that is 85 years old and over 400 square feet wide. Return to the 1920s as you walk through the nation’s only historic Botanic Research Laboratory where Edison, Ford and Firestone planted and researched more than 14,000 plants to find a source of natural rubber which could be planted in this country and commercially produced for uses in the automobile industry, factories, airplanes and other wartime needs. The site itself is full of inventions and thoughtful utilization of natural resources with artesian wells, water cisterns and fire systems that showed how the two inventors and their families used what was available to create their winter homes in southwest Florida more than a century ago.
Take learning to a new level with the help of our Wild Wizard. Teachers have the option of adding a fast paced and fun filled lab show and/or a hands on workshop to enhance their visit to the estates. The Wild Wizard’s special combination of entertainment and education will engage and enlighten your students to the importance of reading, hard work and persistence, as it was demonstrated to us by the achievements of both Edison and Ford. During the lab shows participants can take part in a number of Edison’s experiments to see first hand how his ideas became inventions that changed the world. Add a Wizards Workshop and discover a new perspective on science and history with our hands on projects your students will get to take home.
A visit to the Edison and Ford Winter Estates is more than just looking at inventions and historic buildings, it is learning firsthand how the ingenuity, creativity and hard work of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford changed American business, industry and the world.
Give your students the chance to see how ideas can change the world at the Edison and Ford Winter Estates and see what Edison meant by, “All progress, all success springs from thinking.”
Teachers should plan to spend a minimum of three hours at the Edison and Ford Winter Estates. Outdoor picnic facilities and a museum store are also available. Include your chaperones in the pre-visit activities so they can support and expand the student’s work.
Encourage students to bring cameras to create a diary and tell a story