Free Science Studies: Guglielmo Marconi

Guglielmo Marconi was an Italian physicist, electrical engineer, and inventor best known for his pioneering development of radio communications.

Read the following:

“Other Famous Inventors of To-Day: Guglielmo Marconi”

  • Map the following (you’ll find mapping resources below):
  • Read more about the RepublicFlorida collision at
  • View an illustration of the Florida after the collision.
  • Learn more about Jack Binns, the wireless operator on the RMS Republic at
  • Read a detailed and illustrated account of Marconi’s transatlantic wireless experiment at
  • Learn more about the RMS Baltic that rescued the collision survivors at
  • View a photo of Marconi and associates preparing to hoist the receiving antenna kit.
  • View a photo of the Poldhu Radio Station.
  • Use this interactive at Florida State Universityto better understand how electromagnetic waves work.
  • Review electric telegraph code.
  • The language at the top of page 264 sounds very strange to our ears:

    The cr-a-ck, cr-a-ck of the sparks when the electric currents leap between the knobs of the transmitter is a familiar sound. The crack of these sparks at long distance stations is like thunder, and the flame is as large around as a man’s wrist.

    For context, the text is referring to a spark gap transmitter that was a common method of relaying telegraph codes. Watch the video below to see how it worked. Can you imagine a flash of “flame” as large as a man’s wrist?

  • Take a look at Marconi’s coherer along with explanation at
  • Explain the problems that might be created by using a non-tuned receiver (see bottom pg. 264).
  • How did the “wireless of Marconi replace the telegraph of Morse” as the text predicted? [Radio]
  • Create a timeline showing the main events in Marconi’s invention of wireless transmission (you’ll find helps below).
  • More about Marconi from the Book of Knowledge:

    Guglielmo Marconi, an Italian whose mother was Irish, was born in Bologna in 1874. From childhood his chief interest was in electricity, and he studied it at the University of Bologna. When he first read about the Hertzian waves [electricity sent through the air without wires in electromagnetic waves, like lightwaves], he saw at once that they could be used to send messages through the air without the help of wires, and he was astonished that no one had thought of doing so before. He began experimenting in his garden with simple instruments that he had made himself, and soon was able to send messages across the garden. Then he went into the country, where he succeeded in sending messages two miles.

    He offered his discovery to the Italian Government, but the Government did not accept his offer. Marconi then wrote to Sir William Preece, head of the British Postal Service, and was invited to come to London. Marconi went to England, and you can judge of Sir William’s astonishment when a slim youth of only twenty was ushered into his office as the scientist, Marconi, with whom he had been in correspondence.

    In England Marconi went on with his experiments with great success. The British Government took the matter up, and his instruments were installed on a lightship on the Goodwin Sands. Next, wireless service was established between England and France, and some large ships were equipped with wireless telegraph. A station was built at Poldhu, in Cornwall, and messages were sent and received between it and incoming and outgoing ships.

    Marconi then set out to prove that messages could be sent across the Atlantic. Instead of going to the expense of erecting a high tower on the coast of Newfoundland for his antenna, he flew a kite, and at the lower end of the wire that held the kite he attached his receiving instrument, which had a telephone receiver. By this means he was able to detect the signals sent out to him across the ocean, from Poldhu in England. This was in 1901.

    Improvements followed immediately, and Marconi took a prominent part in those developments. Just as Morse’s telegraph in 1844 marked the beginning of the use for practical purposes of electricity carried over wires, so Marconi’s invention marked the beginning of the practical use of messages carried over electrical waves without wires. In fact it was the beginning of our Age of Electronics.

    “The Makers of Telegraphs, Telephones and Radio” from The Book of Knowledge


Further Investigation

Guglielmo Marconi
Brief biography from the History Channel.

Guglielmo Marconi
Bibliography and wireless communication contribution at MIT.

Liner “Republic” Rammed at Sea; Four Lives Lost?
1909 New York Times account of the accident at

Marconi in Newfoundland: The 1901 Transatlantic Radio Experiment
Excellent illustrated account.

Marconi History
Timeline at Columbia to help with suggestion above.


Simple Wave Simulator
Interactive to help understand the properties and actions of waves.

Self-Guided Tour of the Electromagnetic Spectrum
PBS interactive to aid in understanding electromagnetic waves.

Milestone Map
Interactive at the Franklin Institute that helps you create a timeline of Marconi’s advances as mentioned in the suggestions above.

Interactive Timeline Maker {Free}
Use this interactive at to create a timeline showing the major events in Marconi’s development of wireless transmissions.


Marconi and His Great Achievements – New Experiments in Wireless Telegraphy”
Chapter from Boys’ Second Book of Inventions by Baker.

Unit Studies & Lesson Plans
Marconi's Wireless Telegraphy: A Unit Study

Marconi’s Wireless Telegraphy: A Unit Study
Our own free unit with background information and research, several different activities, book recommendations, and notebooking helps.

Printables & Notebooking Pages

World Map
At for locating Italy, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

Italy Map
PAT map for locating Bologna.

Canada Map
PAT map for locating Newfoundland and Signal Hill.

United Kingdom Map
PAT map for locating Cornwall and the Poldhu Wireless Station.

Guglielmo Marconi Notebooking Pages
Simple pages for copywork, narrations, or wrapping up.

Enjoy the entire series:
Free Science Studies: Great Inventors & Their Inventions
Free Science Studies: Great Inventors & Their Inventions

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