Kids can be amazingly innovative if left to their own creative devices. Cardboard tubes, tape, scissors, and a couple of mirrors make a pretty cool periscope. But what about the kids who take those same materials and create something that is both unique and useful, like a better mousetrap? Kids are known for being imaginative, but when it comes to inventors, they’re not the first group that comes to mind. You might have an inventor in your class. And given a little encouragement, some supplies, and a few ideas to get started, you might find yourself with a class full of young Thomas Edisons! To note, Thomas Edison, the Father of Inventions, had over 1,000 U.S. patents.
- Richie Stachowski (Age 10) – Water Talkie:
In 1996, 11-year-old Richie Stachowski went on a trip to Hawaii with his family. “I was surfing with my dad. When we dove under, there were so many beautiful things to see. I wished we could talk underwater,” said Stachowski. After finding out that there were no inventions for this kind of sub-aquatic communication, Stachowski started researching underwater acoustics and trying out prototypes in the family pool. Eventually, he came up with the Water Talkie – a conical device with a blow valve and plastic membrane that enables swimmers to talk with one another underwater from as far as 15 feet away.
- George Nissen (Age 16) – Trampoline:
In 1930, at age 16, George Nissen came up with an idea that would revolutionize acrobatics: the trampoline. After seeing trapeze artists finish their routines by dropping into a safety net below, Nissen thought it would be even more exciting if they could somehow keep bouncing around – so he turned his parents’ garage into a workshop and got cracking. His invention consisted of a metal frame with canvas stretched over it, which he christened the “bouncing rig.”
- Hart Main (Age 13) – ManCan:
Hart Main’s business started out with a joke. In 2010, the 13-year-old made fun of the girlie-scented candles his sister was vending at a school fundraiser and kidded that she ought to try more manly scents. However, his parents overheard him and encouraged Main to pursue the idea himself. So it was that Main used $100 he had earned from his newspaper route and gave it a go. He purchased scents and wax online and decided to make his ManCan candles in recycled soup cans, choosing aromas like Coffee, New Mitt, Bacon and Fresh Cut Grass.
- Frank Epperson (Age 11) – Popsicle:
On a winter’s night in 1905, the temperature in San Francisco had fallen to a record low, by chance freezing a concoction that 11-year-old Frank Epperson had left out on the porch. As the story goes, Epperson mixed soda water powder and water in a glass and then left the stirring stick in the mixture. After a night out in the cold, the mixture had frozen solid – and the accidental inventor had created the world’s first Popsicle.
- Chester Greenwood (Age 15) – Earmuffs:
While he was 15 years old, Chester Greenwood’s ears got painfully cold one day when he was ice skating in his hometown of Farmington, Maine. Although he tried wrapping a scarf around his head, it simply didn’t do the trick – so he set out to find a better solution to the problem. Greenwood made a wire frame and asked his grandmother to sew beaver skin pads to it, creating the world’s first earmuffs. In 1877, at age 19, Greenwood patented his invention.
- Cassidy Goldstein (Age 12) – Crayon Holders:
At age 11, Cassidy Goldstein encountered a problem that has vexed creative kids for generations: her crayons were broken and the pieces were too small to hold onto. Still, undeterred, she searched through her arts and crafts supplies until she found a plastic tube designed to keep roses fresh during shipping. Goldstein inserted a crayon piece into the tube and unwittingly created her first prototype. In 2002, she filed a patent for her Crayon Holders and soon struck a licensing deal with Rand International that ensured her five percent of royalties per sale. Her Crayon Holders not only make it easy to use broken crayons, but they also help kids with fine motor difficulties to hold onto the wax pastels.
Keywords: Invention, children, patents.