Betsy Price October 7, 2022 Culture, Headlines
The opening of Hagley ‘Nation of Inventors’ exhibit was delayed after floodwaters did $2 million of damage to the campus’s utility systems.
More than a year after Hagley Museum’s splashy new “Nation of Invent0rs” exhibit was expected to open, it swung the doors wide Saturday.
The showcase, built around the museum’s huge collection of patent models, traces the history of American ingenuity since Colonial days, looking at the contributions of industry, entrepreneurs, immigrants and women.
While the museum is hailing the opening as a homecoming for patent models that have been traveling to be displayed in museums around the world, it’s actually a victory over Mother Nature.
Its September 2021 opening was canceled after the Brandywine River that bounds its property rose a few days before the opening as the remnants of Hurricane Ida came through.
It caused $2 million of damage to the Hagley’s utility infrastructure, much of which was in the basement of the visitors center, where the exhibit is located upstairs. The exhibit was not damaged, but 120 models had to be removed while work was done.
During the year-long reconstruction delays were caused by supply chain issues, and contractors faced the same labor market challenges as other employers.
Hagley’s fame is due to its history as the home to the DuPont Corp.’s first business, gunpowder yards, and the site of the du Pont family’s ancestral home.
During a preview show before the 2021 storm, Hagley’s Executive Director Jill MacKenzie said the mission of the museum and exhibit is to inspire people to be innovative in their own lives, partly by exploring Hagley’s collections, original powder yards and online resources.
“We think that one of the best ways to do that is for them to understand that this is not something that’s new,” she said “People have been inspired to invent for hundreds of years and so coming here and teasing out the stories of the inventors I know is going to inspire them because it certainly inspired me.”
The $2 million exhibit that opened Saturday replaces one about the history of the DuPont Corp. It had been installed in 1957.
Visitors are welcomed by a glass case filled with 60 patent models, culled from the 5,000 that are in Hagley’s collection. Dozens more are scattered throughout the two-story exhibit.
Some are silly, some are profound and some will make you marvel, both at the impracticality and at the beauty of the model.
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Most American inventors have been ordinary people who never achieved fame or notoriety, the exhibit takes pains to point out.
“They followed a series of steps to develop, document, design and test their inventions, with countless iterations and alterations along the way,” said the release announcing Saturday’s opening. “Many sought to protect their ideas with a patent from the U.S. government.”
From 1790-1880, inventors had to include a small-scale model of the invention with their application. Only the U.S. required that.
The staff tried to choose models that looked cool, were fascinating or had a great story, said Christopher Cascio, assistant curator.
Hence, a metal casket, a fancy door lock with bright brass knob, even something from Jim Beam Bourbon are across from the front door.
Catherine R. Mott’s 1878 “Improvement in Fire-Escapes” (Patent No. 202,115) was designed to help women and children escape tall apartment buildings in a fire. It consisted of a cage-ladder that would run up the wall and connect with balconies or platform. As residents left, firefighters could simultaneously ascend.
Some of the models underscore the adages that suggest we all “try, try again” and that there’s so many ways to fail. One is an 1881 “Carbonizer” (Patent No. 248,423) from Thomas A. Edison. He tested 6,000 different fibers before he found that his incandescent bulb required a filament of carbonized cotton thread to make it long-lasting.
The first floor explores the idea and uses of models. The exhibit emphasizes how the world’s inventors would track each in expositions, examining models and ideas to inspire their own creations.
One area on the first floor is devoted to the importance of U.S. and world exhibition, and the DuPont Co. makes an appearance there in a section devoted to Delaware inventors.
DuPont was innovating and inventing from the beginning, including a 1804 graining machine and process, which allowed the gunpower company to separate the size of its gunpowder pieces for different purposes.
The company’s transformation from a gunpowder factory to a chemical powerhouse sprouted in the 1840s when the company worked on smokeless gunpowder, said Lucas Clawson, Hagley’s historian.
It took a century of experimenting, but the company transitioned to a chemical powerhouse as World War I dawned and consumed the globe.
DuPont’s work with nitrocellulose and cellulose chemistry while dealing with cotton became the basis for synthetic fabrics and plastics and some of the processes led to paints and varnishes and paints.
It also led to the creation of chemicals, processes and products that became household names, such as Teflon, Tyvek, Mylar, Dacron, Lycra and Orlon.
Upstairs, the exhibit moves more into inventions for everyday use, including the Mason Jar, sewing machines, railroad equipment and prosthetics.
Many are the stories of people of color, or women. One section about women details the way they were all doing it for themselves and other women.
One of the best aspects of the patent system, McKenzie noted, was that it was both colorblind and genderblind.
While the exhibit was in limbo, Hagley sent a selection of Hagley ’s models west to the new Design and Innovation building at the University of California, San Diego, and announced that in May 2022, food- and travel-related patent models from Hagley ’s collection were added to the Philadelphia International Airport’s Exhibitions Program.
Hagley is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Last admission is at 4 p.m. “Nation of Inventors” is included with regular Hagley Museum admission of $20 for adults; $16 seniors age 62+ and students; $10 children 6-14.Amission is free for Hagley members; children 5 and younger; and current military members and their families. For more information, go to www.hagley.org/inventors
Betsy Price is a Wilmington freelance writer who has 40 years of experience, including 15 at The News Journal in Delaware.
Chase Martinez shovels sand during a Delaware Science Olympiad bridges event as Joseph Mlodak uses two rods to stop the bucket from swinging. As Chase Martinez filled a bucket hanging from his balsa wood bridge with sand, the structure began making ominous popping sounds and he shoveled faster. “I thought it was going to crack,” he said. But, when time was called in the bridges event at the Delaware Science Olympiad Saturday, the bridge hadn’t collapsed before the six-minute deadline. “That’s the first one I’ve had today that didn’t crack,” proctor Win Bookhart told Chase and his partner Joseph Mlodak. The sixth- and seventh-graders from St. Mary Magdalene School were two of the 250 students from around Delaware taking part of the 2022 Science Olympiad construction competitions at Cab Calloway School of the Arts. It was the first time since 2019 that the construction events could be moved indoors. Held for years at Delaware State University in Dover, Science Olympiad was canceled in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, the construction events were held outdoors where wind and the rough surface of parking lots challenged the builders. This year, the knowledge tests were taken online and the construction events such as bridges, mousetrap vehicles, storm the castle, the Wright stuff, solar power, sounds of music, it’s about time and ping pong parachute were moved indoors. The names sound funny, but participating is not a joke. Science Olympiad is a national program designed to enhance STEM education. Many college applications ask whether a student participated in Science Olympiad and how they placed. Middle and high schools form teams of students who pick several events in which to participate. The contests not only given individual awards, but total points from schools to name school winners, too. Some of the competitions require students to study fields such as cell biology or Delaware trees and take timed knowledge tests. The construction events require students to build devices from scratch that must meet specific standards and perform in specific ways. While the bridges are tested for structural integrity, events such as gravity vehicles require them to stop at a precise point. Chase and Joseph picked the bridges event because it seemed like fun. “Once when I was in, like fourth or fifth grade, we built a bridge in class,” Chase said. “I really liked building it. So I just wanted to do it again.” Tower Hill junior Ben Jordan, left, and senior Ben Miao tweak their gravity vehicle. He and Joseph were surprised to be told by Bookhart that they had actually over-engineered their bridge. Bookhart pointed out several pieces on the bridge that he thought were redundant and made the bridge weigh more than it needed to. It only had to hold until they hit 33 pounds in the bucket swinging from the bridge. While it’s admirable to get to 41 pounds, their ultimate score would have been higher with a lighter bridge. Over in the gym, Tower Hill junior Ben Jordan and senior Ben Miao were tweaking their gravity vehicle to try to get their car as close as possible to the spot it was supposed to stop on. Jordan has participated in Science Olympiad before. “It’s a lot of fun because you are really pushing the limits on, like the accuracy thing,” he said. “It’s very easy to get close but it gets really hard to get super close.” This is the first time Miao participated in Science Olympiad. He got involved, he said, because he took a physics class this year. Cab junior Shay Wilson and senior Pinky Huang were two of the few young women competitors visible that day. They stood in the corner of the gym waiting for their chance to shoot off a rocket that contained a parachute anchored by a ping pong ball. Huang thinks fewer women participate because there are fewer women in STEM classes and science fields. She plans to go into international business, but really likes science, she says. Wilson plans to be a wildlife veterinarian. She said she liked the experience of working with different materials, dealing with a topic she was unfamiliar with, and having to be able to adapt to perform. State director Gordon Lipscy said Saturday’s events were expected to have 21 teams from 15 middle schools and 41 teams from about 30 schools. That’s about half of the number participating before COVID and he hopes next year to begin building back to the one-day event for only middle and only high schools. They all ended in a giant assembly in which winners were announced. The top 10 students in each contest walked to the stage to get medals, and schools could loudly celebrate their places in the overall rankings. “I can’t wait to get back indoors and have medal ceremonies,” Lipscy said.
A Wilmington firefighter and union president will go to jail for possessing child pornography. Photo by Sora Shimazaki of Pexels A former union president of the Wilmington Fire Department has been sentenced to 60 months in prison after pleading guilty to possessing child pornography. Joseph J. Leonetti Jr. also was given five years of supervised release after he completes his sentence by Chief Judge Colm F. Connolly on Wednesday. According to public documents, law enforcement officers seized Leonetti’s personal cell phone June 19, 2020, and found videos and cached images of child pornography. A cache is a storage location that collects temporary data for easy retrieval. Investigators also found that Leonetti had deleted evidence from his phone when he saw law enforcement arrive at his house, a press release said. He deleted the Kik application–a messenger and group chat application that Leonetti had used to chat in a group dedicated to pedophilia and onto which Leonetti had uploaded a video of child pornography, a press release said. In the cellphone’s “Notes” application, investigators found links to folders associated with cloud-based file storage services Dropbox and Mega. The contents of some of these links contained additional child pornography. The child pornography found on the defendant’s cellphone and in the linked folders included depictions of prepubescent minors engaged in various sexual acts and the lascivious exhibition of their genitals, the press release said. Leonetti retired from his firefighter’s post in early 2021. In published news reports, he blamed post-traumatic stress syndrome for his addiction to porn, saying it began after a woman and her grandchild were killed in a fire not long after the department lost three firefighters on the job. In a press release, U.S. Attorney David C. Weiss said his office is committed to protecting children, without regard to the occupation or power of the wrongdoer. “Mr. Leonetti, while in a position of trust as a firefighter and union president for the Wilmington Fire Department, possessed sexually explicit photographs and videos of prepubescent children,” said Brian A. Michael, special agent in charge for Homeland Security Investigations, Philadelphia. He pointed out that even though Leonetti will go to jail, “the lives of these children have been tragically impacted by the defendants’ actions. No sentence will reverse the physical and mental abuse that they have endured. “ Homeland Security investigated the case, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Graham L. Robinson prosecuted it. This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. It was launched in May 2006 by the U.S. Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section of the Department of Justice, the project marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, and to identify and rescue victims. For more on the project, go to www.justice.gov/psc.
Polytech visits Odessa Football Friday 7:30PM LINK Both teams come into this contest with 2-4 records on the season. Polytech’s two wins are over First State Military Academy and a good Charter of Wilmington football team. In their last contest they suffered a loss to a tough Indian River team. Odessa is the newest school in our state. The team is made up of all underclassmen as the school starts its first varsity season. Their wins came over First State Military as well and Early College @DSU. This will be our first ever live production from the new & beautiful campus of the Odessa Ducks. Cape Henlopen visits Sussex Central Football Friday 7:00PM LINK Capstone Homes Rivalry Game of the Week Cape Henlopen comes into this matchup on a high note after they got their first victory of the season with a 14-7 victory over Caesar Rodney. Cape has battled some adversity over the season as they lost some key players at key positions. They have a tough schedule this season and this game wont get any easier. Sussex Central is 3-3 on the season. They will look to get back on the winning side of things after suffering a loss at Dover last week. This team loves to play at home as they host Cape at home in the castle. Dover visits Smyrna Football Friday 7:00PM LINK First State Orthopedics Game of the Week This game has lined up to be a big time 3A battle of top ranked teams. Dover is having a turnaround season after coach Chip Knapp took over the squad. Dover is 4-2 on the season and only in state loss came to Appo a couple weeks back. Last week they got a signature win over Sussex Central last week. Smyrna is 4-2 on the season & they to have only one loss to an in state team which is #1 Middletown. Smyrna is coming off a bye week, but they had a big win before that as they made a great comeback to defeat St Georges at home. This game should be fun to watch as two big play offenses faceoff in Smyrna. Delaware Live Weekly Week 7 Wednesday 7PM LINK Buffalo Wild Wings in Rehoboth This week we will have special guests from our Capstone Homes Rivalry Game of the Week as we will be joined by Cape Henlopen & Sussex Central football teams. We will also reveal our football top 5 rankings, and talk about this week’s upcoming games. Be sure to tune in as we also reveal our 10 ten plays of the week.
The standard treatment Matt Hall had relied on for years is no longer enough to keep his kidneys functioning.
Department of Transportation officials said during a community workshop Thursday night that the bulk of the I-95 “Restore the Corridor” project should be complete by early 2023. Weather permitting, DelDOT is planning two “super weekends” — one in mid-September and another in late September. On Friday, Sept. 16 at 8 p.m. I-95 southbound through Wilmington will close. All southbound travel lanes through the city will remain closed until 5 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 19. Traffic coming from Pennsylvania will be diverted to I-495/Port of Wilmington southbound. Traffic entering I-95 between the I-95/I-495 split will be diverted onto state Route 202, then onto state Route 141 around the city before reuniting with I-95 near Newport. The 2nd Street onramp to I-95 southbound will remain open. During the closure, DelDOT will be performing drainage improvements and paving. Current lane configurations will remain the same after that section of the highway reopens on Sept. 19. The second “super weekend” will occur from Friday, Sept. 30 at 8 p.m. until Monday, Oct. 3 at 5 a.m. During that time, traffic from Pennsylvania will again be diverted to I-495/Port of Wilmington. Traffic entering from Naamans Road onward will be diverted to DE-202 onto DE-141, then back onto I-95 near Newport. The 2nd Street exit out of the city will be closed during the second “Super Weekend.” Traffic will have to take MLK Jr. Boulevard to U.S. 113 then I-495 southbound. When the highway reopens, all southbound traffic will be returned to the southbound lanes of I-495. Current northbound traffic configurations will stay the same. Officials said the Electronic Speed Safety Program has successfully reduced speeds and accidents. Since Jan. 17, 2022, crashes are down 47% when compared to the same time period in 2021. Injury-involved crashes are down 45% year over year. There have been no fatal injuries in the affected area in 2022. For more information, visit restorethecorridor.com.
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