- About JEI
- JEI News
Grit & Growth: Edwin Binney, the Inventor of Crayola Crayons
Grit: [noun] Passion and perseverance in working towards a goal you care deeply about
Growth Mindset: [noun] The belief that talent and skills can be developed through hard work
Our new Grit and Growth series celebrates the accomplishments of amazing people, past and present, who can serve as role models for our students. Through their examples, we hope that our students gain the courage to pursue their passions with grit and explore their infinite potential with a growth mindset.
Our first role model is Edwin Binney, the inventor of Crayola Crayons, who used both his grit and growth mindset to achieve and succeed!
Who is Edwin Binney?
Edwin Binney is an inventor and businessman who created many things that have to do with colors. He sold a black pigment used for shoe polishes and rubber tires. He created white chalk for teachers and a protective coat of paint called “barn red” that farmers loved. However, he’s most famous for creating the colorful Crayola Crayons that children still use today!
How did he show grit?
Part of being an inventor is experimentation. He was so passionate about his ideas that he tirelessly experimented with ingredients until he achieved the end results he wanted. When he decided to create slate pencils for school, he tested out various mixtures of materials, like cement and talc, until he made the first dustless white chalk! When he saw the need for affordable wax crayons without harmful chemicals for young children, he rolled up his sleeves and started again with new materials, producing his first box of crayons in 1903.
How did he exhibit the growth mindset?
He always knew that there was room for improvement. Whenever he hit a wall, he did not give up and think, “I guess I’m just not cut out for this. Might as well stop trying now!” He kept on going until he achieved what he wanted, getting back up every time he fell. He didn’t see his failures as limits to his inventive mind; rather, he knew that as long as he put in the time and effort, he would eventually see results.
What can your child learn from his example?
Like Edwin Binney, there’s always a solution to a problem you feel passionate about if you experiment and work hard without giving up. Failing over and over leads to success as long as you are failing purposefully. That’s why he engaged so thoroughly in the trial-and-error process.
Similarly, another inventor and businessman, Thomas Edison, had to try many different tools to successfully complete the invention of the lightbulb. He said: “I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.” Like these inventors, you can allow yourself to keep failing in order to weed out what doesn’t work until you find what does!
The Crayon Man: The True Story of the Invention of Crayola Crayons
Written by Natascha Biebow / Illustrated by Steven Salerno