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  • Writer's pictureCassandra L. Wilkinson

Do You Know the Next Young Inventor?

Summer is here and parents everywhere are searching for things for their children to do over the summer break. If you search the internet for camps for young inventors, a wide variety of opportunities are shown. What a wonderful way to encourage our children to use their minds and imagination and perhaps come up with the next great invention.
The following inventors came up with their inventions at a young age:
Becky Shroeder was 10 years old when she came up with the idea for the glo sheet. The Glo-Sheet has been used in many places. Doctors use them so they can check patient's notes in the dark without waking them up and the US Navy and NASA have used them.
Fifteen year old Chester Greenwood invented earmuffs after struggling to find a way to keep his ears warm while ice skating. Through the years, Chester also patented a tea kettle, a steel tooth rake, an advertising matchbox, and a machine used in producing wooden spools for wire and thread. He invented, but did not patent, an umbrella holder for mail carriers.
Blind since the age of 3, Louis Braille invented the Braille reading system at the age of 15. He began attending a school for the blind in Paris at the age of 10 and was introduced to a system for reading by touch. The Institute's method of reading was known as embossing and used large letters with raised outlines and then the outlines could be traced with fingers. The size of the letters made the embossed books so large and expensive that only a few were available. While Louis was at the school, Captain Charles Barbier, a retired military man, introduced an alphabetical code of dots and dashes he had devised for sending and receiving messages at night. Louis expanded on these systems and developed the system that is used today.
Philo Farnsworth was a 14 year old farm boy who got the idea to project a recorded image by scanning electrons back-and-forth across a glass screen from plowing a field. In 1927, at the age of 21, Philo developed and patented the world’s first working fully-electronic television.
When Abigail Fleck was eight years old, she and her father, Jonathan, were cooking bacon in their St. Paul, Minnesota home. Inspired by an offhand comment from her father, Abbey Fleck invented a new, quicker, and healthier way to cook bacon.
George Nissen was 16 years old when he set out to develop a bouncing apparatus (trampoline). He worked in his parents’ garage using steel materials he found at a junkyard.
Garrett Yazzie built a solar water heater at the age of 13 to heat his home for his family. Garrett is a Navajo Indian who lived on an Indian reservation where the trailer he and his family lived in had neither running water nor electricity.
William Kamkwamba is a Malawian inventor and author, who at 15 years old built a windmill to power a few electrical appliances in his family's house using blue gum trees, bicycle parts, and materials collected in a local scrapyard. Since then, William has built a solar-powered water pump that supplies the first drinking water in his village.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office has a resource for children to learn more about patent related topics (it is not too bad of a resource for adults to use either) and the information can be found at The website contains games, a Frequently Asked Question section, and other sections that provide some very useful information.
So go ahead, encourage your children to expand their minds and come up with the next great invention. They may just spend their summer working on some amazing projects that eventually make this world a better place for all of us!
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