Did you know? Jazz musician Lonnie Plaxico is from IllinoisPlaxico was born in Chicago and knew he loved music. He decided to teach himself to play the electric bass. By the time Plaxico was 14, he was a professional electric and acoustic bass player and had performed next to other prominent jazz figures.

He has produced Grammy-winning collaborations with Art Blakey and Cassandra Wilson and has recorded five albums.

Learn more:
Read Lonnie Plaxico's biography.
View a list of albums.

Did you know? The first LED was invented in IllinoisThe high-tech light-emitting diodes (LED) used in TVs, computer screens and billboards were invented in Illinois by Nick Holonyak, Jr.

Born in Zeigler in 1928, Holonyak received his undergraduate degree, masters degree, and Ph.D. from the University of Illinois. He was the first Ph.D. student of John Bardeen, the only person to have won the Nobel Prize in Physics twice. With the guidance of his mentor and consistent hard work, Holonyak created many useful inventions during his career.

Holonyak was noted for his work on light-emitting diodes and has been referred as "the father of the LED." He invented the first visible-spectrum LED in 1962 while working as a consulting scientist at General Electric. LEDs have many advantages over incandescent light sources, including lower energy consumption, longer lifetimes and smaller size.

Light-emitting diodes are now used in applications as diverse as aviation lighting, car headlights, advertising, general lighting, traffic signals and camera flashes. The inventor of LEDs made our world brighter and more colorful.

Learn more:
Want to know how light-emitting diodes work?  Read this article from HowStuffWorks.com.
Here is an interesting article about LED’s inventor, Nick Holonyak.

JoanHigginbothamDYK2And not only is she a native of Chicago, but she is also a graduate of Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, class of 1987. Shortly after graduating with her Bachelor of Science degree that year, she began an extraordinary 10-year career with NASA.

Ms. Higgingbotham retired from NASA in 1996 after she took part in STS-116 on the Space Shuttle Discovery, during which time she spent 12 days, 20 hours and 45 minutes in space.

Learn more:
Want to learn more about Joan Higginbotham?
Watch and listen to Joan talk about her NASA career in her own words.

Did You Know? Cracker Jack was invented in IllinoisYou’ve heard the song. “Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack…” is one of the most memorable line’s of baseball’s unofficial anthem.

You’ve probably tried the salty, sweet snack. But did you know it was invented in Illinois?

Cracker Jack, invented by Lewis and F.W. Rueckheim, is another of the many famous products that debuted at Chicago’s 1893 World’s Fair.

The legend goes the product – made of peanuts, molasses and popcorn – got its name when a salesman tried it and shouted, “That’s cracker jack!”

By 1907, sports enthusiasts at Major League ballparks throughout the nation were munching on the popular snack. In 1908, it featured prominently in “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.”

Learn more:
The official Cracker Jack page on Frito-Lay’s website
The history of Cracker Jack
Listen to the tune and read the lyrics of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.”

Did You Know? NBA star Derrick Rose was born in IllinoisDerrick Rose was born Oct. 4, 1988, in Chicago. He grew up in the Englewood neighborhood in southwest Chicago. Rose attended Simeon Career Academy, where he led the team to back-to-back state championships. Following his graduation in 2007 he was named Illinois’ Mr. Basketball, selected to play for Team USA and played for the West team in the McDonald’s All-American Game.

Rose eventually chose to play college basketball at the University of Memphis, and during his first season (’07-’08) Rose and the Tigers earned the No. 1 seed heading into the NCAA tournament, but ultimately lost in the championship game to the University of Kentucky.

Declaring for the NBA draft after just one college season, Rose was drafted first overall in the 2008 NBA draft by the Chicago Bulls. His NBA career started on a high note when he received rookie of the year honors in 2009. The following year the Chicago Bulls finished the regular season with the best record in the NBA and Rose received the MVP award, the youngest player ever to win it. The Bulls have had tremendous success since drafting Rose, but his career has been plagued with injuries due to ACL tears in both of his knees over the past two seasons.

On Sept. 23, 2014, Rose announced he is making a $1 million donation to the Chicago-based non-profit After School Matters. The organization currently serves about 15,000 at-risk Chicago teenagers. They set up a number of programs throughout the city for teens to partake in after school. Programs include the arts, communications, science, sports and technology.

Learn more:
Derrick Rose Official Website
Derrick Rose NBA Bio