A few weeks ago, I received an email from a Stony Brook Elementary School 4th grade teacher, Sarah Lindbloom,* who said that four of her students had written a bill as part of a classroom unit on the legislative process. On March 9, 2015, that proposed bill became Bill No. S2771 and was introduced in the Senate.
Students Rory Danieluk, Dylan Kalina, Emma Smith and Zoe Kitson came up with the idea that Thomas Alva Edison should be named as State Inventor after a class trip to the New Jersey Statehouse.
“We were learning about the legislative process and were broken into groups for a project,” said Dylan. “It was up to us to decide and we thought that Thomas Edison should be recognized as the State Inventor, so we wrote to the state legislature.”
Known as “The Wizard of Menlo Park,” Edison resided in New Jersey for more than 50 years and some of his most notable inventions include the electric pen, early copy machine, the quadruplex telegraph (allowing transmission of multiple messages on the same telegraph wire), the phonograph, the first commercially viable incandescent light bulb, motion picture camera and a storage battery that could power an electric car. Edison also installed the brass chandelier with 66 light bulbs that hangs in the General Assembly Chamber of the New Jersey State House.
When I met them for this article, Ms. Lindbloom’s students seemed so bright, knowledgeable, confident, and so proud of themselves — as they should be.
“It is so cool to be only a 10 year old and send something to the legislature and have it pass,” said Zoe. “I feel like people think that a 10 year old could never do this, but we did.”
“Ms. Lindbloom really believes that everyone should have a voice,” said Rory about what has motivated the group. “She inspired us to take a step forward and never give up.”
“It really feels good. It is such an accomplishment,” said Emma.
The bill has been referred to Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism & Historic Preservation Committee, which Senator Shirley Turner is the vice-chair.
In terms of time-frame for the bill to pass, Senator Turner explained, “Predicting the timeline is difficult. Only the budget and appropriations committees meet in March and April for budget hearings. Regular legislative meetings will not reconvene until May. Once we know the schedule, we can make a formal request to the chairman of the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism, and Historic Preservation Committee where the bill is assigned.”
Below is the letter the students wrote to the committee in support of their bill:
“The students sent an impressive letter and made a strong argument for a new state symbol recognizing Thomas Edison as our state inventor,” said Senator Turner. “We need more civic engagement, and I hope that the experience impresses upon the students that their voice matters and that it encourages them to always play an active role in our government and democratic processes.”
Congratulations to the students, Ms. Lindbloom, Stony Brook Elementary and all of Hopewell Valley Regional School District!
*Sarah Lindbloom is also a 2015 recipient of The Governor’s Teacher Award. For more on that, please check out Teachers Honored as Governor’s Educators of the Year at HVRSD School Board Meeting and Six from HVRSD To Receive Governor’s Teacher of the Year for 2015.