Students learn about achievements of the great inventor

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Many students have heard of famous inventors such as Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison but how many know of a man who spent many formative years here in Bermuda before going on to produce the first radio broadcast and invent the submarine sonar system in addition to being a pioneer in the use of hydro-electricity — right here in Flatts Inlet!

A contingent of 25 students of Whitney Institute and their deputy principal Rasheema Swan were special guests of Imagine Bermuda 2009 this week at the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo.

The students came to BAMZ on Tuesday to learn about the impressive achievements of the school's one-time principal Reginald Fessenden.

  • <B>Time wave: </B>William Zuill Sr., the great nephew of Reginald Fessenden, inspects some radio equipment exhibited by David Semos of the Radio Society of Bermuda. Imagine Bermuda held an event for Whitney students at Bermuda Aquarium Museum and Zoo to highlight Mr. Fessenden's achievements.

    Time wave: William Zuill Sr., the great nephew of Reginald Fessenden, inspects some radio equipment exhibited by David Semos of the Radio Society of Bermuda. Imagine Bermuda held an event for Whitney students at Bermuda Aquarium Museum and Zoo to highlight Mr. Fessenden's achievements.


Many students have heard of famous inventors such as Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison but how many know of a man who spent many formative years here in Bermuda before going on to produce the first radio broadcast and invent the submarine sonar system in addition to being a pioneer in the use of hydro-electricity — right here in Flatts Inlet!

A contingent of 25 students of Whitney Institute and their deputy principal Rasheema Swan were special guests of Imagine Bermuda 2009 this week at the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo.

The students came to BAMZ on Tuesday to learn about the impressive achievements of the school's one-time principal Reginald Fessenden.

The occasion was to highlight the birth date of Mr. Fessenden, which is Saturday, October 6.

Mr. Fessenden served as a principal and teacher at the school when he was just 18 years old!

He had travelled from Canada to take up the post in 1884. He would go on to achieve fame when he produced the world's first Radio Broadcast of voice and music in 1906, just months after producing the first the first trans-Atlantic two-way radio telegraph transmission.

Inspired as a small boy by the work of telephone inventor Alexander Graham Bell, Mr. Fessenden would leave Bermuda to pursue his dream job of working in the laboratory of Thomas Edison, the inventor of the light bulb. But not before he met and fell in love with Helen Trott of Smith's Parish. The couple were married in 1890.

Learning about the Mr. Fessenden's fascinating achievements — which also included sonar for submarines and a role in the Niagara Falls power generating plant — the Whitney students were treated to a personal reflection on the inventor's work, by William Zuill Sr., the great-nephew of Fessenden.

Ken Hubbard, a former teacher of Physics at the Bermuda College then gave a simplified overview of the scientific contribution of Mr. Fessenden in his pioneering the world's first Radio Broadcast in 1906.

The Radio Society of Bermuda (HAM operators) put on a hands-on display of radio broadcasting with the students.

Ed Kelly was based at the school's campus with some students while David Semos of the Society set up a base at the Aquarium and gave a detailed explanation of what was involved in such broadcasts.

The Aquarium also provided a boat so that small groups of students could travel along the coast of the Harrington Sound — just beyond the Aquarium — to see first hand the tunnel that Fessenden had built.

That tunnel runs from Flatts Inlet to the Sound and therefore water streams in either direction, depending on the tides. That flowing water provided power for Fessenden's own generator at his house, called Wistow, which is not far from the Aquarium.

It was to this home that the inventor retired with his wife, by which time he held over 500 patents for various inventions.

At Wistow, Mr. Fessenden tinkered with a number of practical ideas and installed the tunnel system the students visited in order to generate his own electricity using the flow of current between Harrington Sound and Flatts Inlet. Reginal Fessenden is buried in the graveyard of St. Mark's Church in Bermuda.

Imagine Bermuda wishes to thank all those involved — as listed above- including the Director of the Aquarium Jack Ward.

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