Anyone who’s gotten to know a child knows how incredible they can be. Sure, they blurt out embarrassing observations in public, but that’s because they don’t filter their thoughts. And yes, they occasionally ruin wallpaper with crayons or finger paint, but that’s because their creativity knows no bounds. Here are seven examples of children whose imagination and ingenuity produced something extraordinary.
In 1963, 6-year-old child inventor Robert Patch created a convertible toy truck. Patch had two goals for his truck: one, that it could easily be taken apart and put back together; two, that it could transform into all sorts of different vehicles. After drawing up a sketch, the boy got a patent for his idea, and the rest was playtime history
In 1930, when George Nissen was a 16-year-old high school gymnast, he began tinkering with an idea for a bouncing apparatus to train on. But it wasn’t until 1934 that Nissen and his University of Iowa tumbling coach Larry Griswold built a device that actually worked. Then, in 1937, when Nissen was traveling the carnival circuit, he came across the Spanish word
trampolin, which means “diving board.” Adding an “e” to the end, he trademarked the name for what was to become a backyard family favorite.
In 1922, when Canadian Joseph-Armand Bombardier was 15 years old, he was tinkering around with his dad’s old Ford Model T motor and decided to attach it to a sled to see if the machine could power through the snow. He enlisted the help of his brother to steer while he took control of the motor, and the first inklings of a powered snow machine were born. Fifteen years later his device, the B-7, was the first snowmobile to hit stores.
Just about everyone owns a TV, but did you ever dream that a teenager came up with the idea? In 1920, 14-year-old Philo Farnsworth first conceived of it, supposedly while he was plowing a potato field. In 1926, he and his business partner founded Crocker Research Laboratories (later named Farnsworth Radio and Television Corporation); only one year after that, the first-ever transmitted images were sent.
In 1905, when Frank Epperson was 11 years old, he was trying to concoct his own version of soda pop. One particularly cold night, he left his beverage—a glass filled with soda water powder and water—outside on the porch by accident, with the mixing stick still in it. The ingredients froze overnight and Epperson was inspired. In 1924, after the young inventor had some success in the real estate business, he applied for a patent, naming his creation the Epsicle. Later, it was changed it to the now well-known Popsicle.
Chester Greenwood grew up ice skating in his native Maine. One day in 1873, the 15-year-old finally became so annoyed with how cold his ears became outdoors that he asked his grandmother to sew fur onto a two-loop wire he created. Soon he had a patented and approved model of what he originally called ear protectors. The state of Maine is so thankful for his invention that every December 21 is celebrated as “Chester Greenwood Day.”
Born in France in 1809, Louis Braille was blinded by an injury when he was only 3 years old. In 1824, while he was a 15-year-old student at the Royal Institute for Blind Youth in Paris, he created a type of reading that involved raised, imprinted dots organized in a pattern to facilitate learning. The first Braille book was released in 1829—and Louis Braille went on to become an instructor at the school where he had once been a student.