You are never too young to innovate!
Have you ever marveled at kids’ creativity and enthusiasm? Or maybe you remember being a kid yourself and having a never-ending stream of imaginative ideas. These seven kids took their ideas and turned them into real, physical products. Some of them are practical, popular, or used every day, yet you would never guess a child invented them. Others will make you smile at their brilliant and sometimes whimsical uniqueness.
George Nissen was only 16 years old when he came up with the idea of the trampoline. Throughout high school he took gymnastics and swimming classes at his local YMCA, where he frequently watched gymnasts perform difficult trapeze routines. He thought it would be fun if the athletes could bounce back up and continue their routines rather than landing on a safety net and starting again. So he set to work in his parents’ garage and ended up with canvas stretched over a metal frame, which he first called a “bouncing ring.” Eventually he changed the name to “trampoline,” which comes from the Spanish word for “diving board.” He also switched from canvas to nylon for an even more bouncy surface. Nissen spent the rest of his life taking trampolines around the world and demonstrating what they could do. His lifelong dream was to have the trampoline become an Olympic event, and he lived to see that dream come true at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.
Most people just throw away crayon pieces when they become too small to properly hold. Cassidy Goldstein had another idea: she found a little plastic tube used to keep flower steps fresh and pushed her broken crayon pieces inside. Years later, in 2002, she got her invention patented by Rand International, and in 2006 she won the Youth Inventor of the Year award from Intellectual Property Owners Education Foundation. Crayon Holders not only keep broken crayons alive, but they also make it easier for children who have difficulties with fine motor skills to hold onto the crayons.
The Shady Lamp
Dominic Wilcox knew that children have incredible imaginations, so he started a project called “Inventors” where children from across the UK sent in drawings of their dream inventions. He selected 60 which he and his team created in real life, and then held an exhibit to display all of the finished products. One of the winning designs is the Shady Lamp by 11-year-old Layla Amir. With the Shady Lamp, “you pull the lever” and “the plastic blinds will turn different directions.”
That’s right, the world’s favorite summer treat was invented by an 11-year-old — by accident! Frank Epperson was mixing a fruity drink powder and water together when something distracted him. He left the mixture, complete with the little wooden stirring stick, out on the front porch where it froze overnight. This was in 1905, but it was over fifteen years before Epperson made his dessert for anyone outside his family. Epperson eventually sold the Popsicle idea to a production company in 1925. In just three years, over 60 million popsicles were sold in America, and millions more have been enjoyed since.
As someone who has always been awful at basketball, I would have loved it if someone had coached me on how to properly shoot the ball. Hands-On Basketball does just that, with two colorful handprints that demonstrate the correct places to hold the ball and make it easier to sink a basket. Chris Hass was only 9 years old when he came up with this idea after trying to teach his friends how to make simple shots. He made a prototype for an Invention Convention at his school, and although he didn’t win, he was encouraged to file a patent and keep selling his product. Since 1994 he has sold thousands of hands-on basketballs to kids worldwide.
Magnetic Locker Wallpaper
Lots of kids love to decorate their lockers with posters, stickers, and notes from friends. It’s a fun way for students to express themselves, but it’s a pain to peel everything off at the end of the year. Sarah Buckel was in eighth grade at Central Catholic Middle School when she came up with the idea for magnetic locker paper. Her father, who works at magnet company MagnaCard, heard her idea and loved it. Sarah helped design patterns and other accessories and made sure the marketing would appeal to girls her age. Within one year her invention had made over one million dollars at nationwide companies such as Target and Staples. MagnaCard has since expanded her range with locker magnets saying things like “friends” or “dream.”
Alex Deans, a twelve-year-old from Ontario, saw a woman struggling to cross the street and was happy to go over and assist. As they were crossing, she told him she was visually impaired and made a comment about how little technology there is to help her. This inspired Alex to create his revolutionary invention, iAid, which he revealed three years later. iAid is a small device that clips to your belt and uses cameras and sensors to detect where objects are. The user holds a joystick which uses the data from the sensors to swivel and point away from the objects, showing the user which way it is safe to walk.