IELTS READING LEVEL 4.5 – Inventions That Changed Our World

Inventions That Changed Our World


What Would We Do Without… ? bubble gum

invented in 1906 by Frank Henry Fleer


Silly Putty

invented in 1943 by James Wright



invented in 1891 by James Naismith



invented in 1948 by George de Mestral


People have been inventing things for years. Paper was invented about 2,000 years ago. The wheel was invented more than 5,000 years ago. What would life be like without paper to write on or bikes to ride? Those inventions have made life easier.



The Wright brothers invented the first airplane in December 1903. That makes 2003 the 100th anniversary! Before the airplane was invented, most people traveled by cars, boats, and trains. Today, airplanes help people travel faster. How do airplanes help you?



Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone in 1876. Before the telephone was invented, people kept in touch by writing letters or talking in person. Today, the telephone makes it easier for people to talk to one another. How do telephones help you?



The first four-wheeled gas-powered car was invented by Karl Benz in 1891. Before people had cars, they couldn’t travel easily. They walked or rode horses for short trips. They took trains or boats for long trips. Today, cars are one of the main ways people travel. How do cars help you?



People worked for years to make the first computer. It was built in 1946. The first computer was called ENIAC. Today, computers are an important part of many people’s lives. People use computers as tools to write, get information, and much more. How do computers help you?






information    in · for · ma · tion



  1. knowledge or facts about any thing or event.

My friend gave me information about the new movie. The newspaper is full of information.


Advanced Definition


  1. knowledge or facts that come from investigation, observation, or study.

An encyclopedia contains a vast amount of information.

  1. knowledge or facts obtained or obtainable through communication with others in connection with a specific situation or event.

We’re waiting for some information from the police concerning the accident.

  1. the act of communicating or receiving knowledge.


Spanish cognate

información: The Spanish word información means information.


These are some examples of how the word or forms of the word are used:

  1. Maps are pictures with information about places. People use many kinds of maps.
  2. “Maps include information boxes called legends,” he explained. “This legend says that upside down Vs represent hills.”
  3. Say you are reporting a fire. Give the information you are asked for. Speak slowly and
  4. She told me that she went to the library and read books about the information she needed to learn.
  5. So the first writing systems were created. They were used for things like recording information about crops and sales contracts.
  6. Storm chasers are people who watch these storms closely. They drive to where a storm is taking place. They take pictures. They use computers to follow the storm. They gather weather information.
  7. Many clubs hold races, and you don’t have to be a member to enter. Check with your local newspaper, bike shop, school, the YMCA, or a recreation center for information about these events and clubs.
  8. Over the years, mapmakers drew many maps to help people travel around the world. Then explorers visited places some people did not know about. The explorers shared their discoveries. Mapmakers added the information to their maps.
  9. No one in my family knew much about Alois Hanousek, my great-grandfather. We knew that he immigrated to the United States in the 1890s. We also knew he came from or near a town in the Czech Republic called Kutna Hora. My family once went to Kutna Hora in search of information.



invention    in · ven · tion



  1. something made for the first time; the result of inventing.

Thomas Edison is known for many inventions.


Advanced Definition


  1. the act or process of inventing.
  2. something invented, esp. a new gadget, device, machine, or method.
  3. something imagined or fabricated, such as a story or a falsehood.
  4. the ability or capacity to invent, devise, originate, or imagine; inventiveness.
  5. a short musical piece, usu. developing one theme.


Spanish cognate

invención: The Spanish word invención means invention.


These are some examples of how the word or forms of the word are used:

  1. Create an invention and name it.
  2. Did you know that bread is one of the earliest human inventions?
  3. An invention is a new thing or idea. It can change the way people live.
  4. Long ago, Native Americans invented a new way to travel. They called their invention a canoe (kuh-NOO).
  5. Goods weren’t the only things that came to Italy during the Renaissance. Ideas came, too. They arrived thanks to two main events, the fall of the Byzantine Empire and the invention of the printing press.
  6. Thousands of kids recently had a sneak peek at the world of tomorrow. They experienced talking robots, underwater vehicles, and life-size video games. These inventions were among the 150 creations at this year’s [2006] NextFest fair.



travel    trav · el



  1. to go from place to place.

My father traveled to many countries.


Advanced Definition

intransitive verb

  1. to journey from place to place.

Many people like to travel during their vacations, but others prefer to stay home. I’ve traveled a lot in North America, but I’ve never traveled to other continents.

  1. to go from place to place on business.

As a rug buyer, he has to travel a great deal.

  1. to move forward in any way.

This car travels at a top speed of 110 miles per hour.

 The paper airplane traveled over the teacher’s desk and landed in the wastebasket.

  1. to associate (usu. fol. by “with”).

I don’t approve of the crowd my daughter is traveling with these days.


transitive verb

  1. to pass over or through.

We traveled the country, stopping in various cities.

  1. to journey over (a distance).

We traveled twenty miles on yesterday’s bicycle trip.



  1. the act of traveling.

I’ve always found travel  exciting.

  1. (pl.) journeys or wanderings.

Our travels took us through Europe and the Middle East.

  1. the movement of persons and vehicles on a certain route or through a given place.

The rough terrain slowed the travel of the weary army.



These are some examples of how the word or forms of the word are used:

  1. Long ago, about 100 colonists left England on a ship called the Mayflower. Colonists were people who traveled to a different land to live.
  2. On land, penguins walk with a waddle or a hop. They often slide on their bellies to travel over ice or snow. They use their flippers and feet to help them slide.



Name: ___________________________________ Date: _______________

1. Which of the following are two inventions in the passage that were invented before 1900?
A. the airplane and the automobile
B. bubblegum and Velcro
C. the car and the computer
D. the telephone and the game of basketball


2. What do all the inventions described in this text have in common?
A. All these inventions changed how people travel.
B. All these inventions made people’s lives easier.
C. All these inventions were invented by Americans.
D. All these inventions were invented in the twentieth century.


3. It can be inferred from the passage that
A. Alexander Graham Bell wrote many letters in his lifetime
B. Karl Benz didn’t like to walk or ride horses for short trips
C. someone had the idea to invent the computer in the 1930s or early 1940s
D. the Wright Brothers spent a long time trying to invent the airplane


4. Read the following sentences and answer the question:

“The Wright brothers invented the first airplane in December 1903. That makes 2003 the 100th anniversary!

What does the word anniversary most nearly mean?
A. a celebrated date
B. a statement of fact
C. an event
D. an interesting idea

5. The primary purpose of this passage is to describe
A. the reasons that Karl Benz invented the gas-powered car
B. some ways that computers help make our lives easier
C. some inventions that have made a big difference
D. the invention of the airplane in December 1903


6. Name two ways that people communicated before the telephone was invented.


7. According to the passage, what do the airplane and the automobile have in common?


8. The question below is an incomplete sentence. Choose the word that best completes the sentence.

_____________the telephone was invented, people kept in touch by writing letters or talking in person.
A. After
B. Since
C. Although
D. Before

9. Which image shows an older invention?




10. If you added new wheels to your bicycle, would you have invented a new type of bicycle? Why or why not?

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Definitions and sample sentences within definitions are provided by Wordsmyth. © 2015 Wordsmyth. All rights reserved.

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