Kid Inventors: Brain
Snack: You are what you eat! That expression goes double when it comes to your
brain. You should eat "brain food" - foods that are good for your body in
general, but especially your brain. If you eat candy, frosting, packaged
cookies or a lot of table sugar, you will be hurting your brain because those
simple sugars get into your bloodstream really fast and give your brain a
"sugar high" followed quickly by a "sugar low." You won't do as well in school
because your memory won't be as good. There are certain foods that are really
good for your brain, though. So for today's snack, take your pick from one or
more of these brain foods: carrots, nuts, green tea, 1 T. flax oil, 4 ounces of
tuna or salmon, and soy products such as soy milk and tofu.
After School Treats
notebook (any spiral notebook will do) and a pen or pencil
In your After School Treats
notebook, you should have a section devoted to "Inventions." As you learn about
these inventions made by children, be thinking of something that YOU could
invent. Start by listing problems that occur to you as you go about your daily
life. You don't have to invent the solutions right away, but you've got to
start somewhere. Keep your "inventions to do" list and, whenever you have a
spare moment, add more details, brainstorm solutions, draw designs, record
questions, and whatever else you need to do to bring your creative ideas to
They're your "brain children." A "brain child"
is the result of your creative thinking. If you invent something, you have
produced a "brain child." But what if the person doing the inventing is a
child, too? That just makes it twice as fun to learn about them!
Most inventions come because the person was trying.
But some inventions have come because the person was just goofing around. With
the inventions made by children, we see both reasons for the invention. Most
inventions come from adults. But it's fun to see the ideas of kids developed
into unique and useful products.
They say "necessity is the mother of invention."
Sometimes when you are just going about your daily routine, you think of a
better way to do something. Sometimes, you put materials together to create
your invention. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't.
But these kids were able to take their ideas and
develop them to the point where they could get a patent on them. A patent is a right granted by the
government that allows you to be the only one who can manufacture, use and sell
your invention. You have to apply for it and prove that your invention is your
original work, not copied off of someone else's work, and that it's unique
enough to be a separate, new invention. Once you have a patent, then if anybody
else wants to make or sell your idea, they have to pay you money to do it.
So let's look at these bright young kid
- Theresa Thompson, 8, and her sister
Mary, 9, invented a solar teepee for a science project in 1960. They
called it a "Wigwarm," a takeoff on the wigwam, the Native American word for a round or oval dwelling
made with poles, bark, mats or animal skins.
- Robert Patch, 6, received a
patent in 1963 for a toy truck that could be changed into different types
- Brandon Whale invented the
"PaceMate" in 1998. It improved the electrical conductivity of his
mother's sensor-bracelets after she had an operation for a pacemaker
implant. Brandon's brother, Spencer, invented a device to attach IV's to
the wheeled vehicles that child patients rode in, so that the IV's would
stay in place.
- Becky Schroeder was 14 when she
thought of painting glow-in-the-dark, or phosphorescent, paint on paper. Once it was dry, then she
could write on that paper in the dark. The glow from the paint gave her
enough light. Her invention has been used in all sorts of ways: doctors
and nurses can use specially-treated paper in hospitals to read patients'
charts at night without waking them, and astronauts use it when their
electrical systems are turned down for charging. It's not real easy to
find a flashlight up in outer space, you know.
Low was 11 when she got a patent on March 10, 1992, for inventing the
Kiddie Stool. It's a fold-up stool that fits under the sink so that kids
can take it out, unfold it, stand on it, and reach the sink. No more
excuses for kids who don't want to do the dishes or brush their teeth!
- Suzanna Goodin, 6, was grossed out when she had to clean the cat food
spoon. So she came up with the idea of an edible spoon-shaped cracker. Edible,
that is, for the cat! She won a grand prize for her invention in the
Weekly Reader National Invention Contest.
- Another Weekly Reader contest winner was Pamela Sica. At age 14,
invented a push-button device that raises the floor of a car so that the cargo, or things that you want to
load and transport in the car, could be lifted up and out more easily. She
didn't patent her invention because the process, which usually involves
hiring an attorney, was too expensive.
- Rich Stachowski
invented Water Talkies ™ in 1996 at age 10. They are underwater walkie
talkies. He entered a toy company's contest, the Wild Planet Kid Inventor
Challenge. The company bought the rights to his invention and started
- Another Wild Planet
contest winner was Shannon Crabill, who invented what she called the "Create-your-own-message-alarm-clock."
Wild Planet also bought that invention, renamed it "Talk Time," and put it
on the market. Shannon got to go on Oprah Winfrey's TV show and featured in
- Stephanie Mui, 10,
invented the "See and Tweezz," aimed at removing splinters and ticks. It
is an all-in-one magnifying glass, tweezers and light.
- It takes a lot of
energy to hold your foot up when you're on crutches. But Tessanie Marek,
11, came up with "Easy Crutches." A pedal connected to the crutch supports
your foot as you move forward with the crutches.
- Matthew Nettleton,
8, invented the "Pin Picker." If you drop straight pins on hardwood floors
or carpets, this invention can help you find them and pick them up before
somebody steps on them in their bare feet and goes "YAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!"
- Over a century ago, a little
girl named Margaret
Knight, age 9, was working in a cotton mill. She saw a
steel-tipped shuttle fly out of a loom and hit a nearby worker. A shuttle
is a device that looks kind of like a boat that moves back and forth
across a loom working with fabric or thread. Anyway, this little girl
invented a device that restrains a shuttle to keep the workers safe. Later,
at age 30, she invented a machine that makes the square-bottom paper bags
we still use for groceries today. It was patented in 1871.
- More recently, Chelsea Lannon
received a patent in 1994 for her "pocket diaper." It's a diaper that has
a pocket that holds a baby wipe and baby powder puff. She got her idea
while helping her mother with her baby brother. She was still in
- Last, but not
least, don't you just hate it when your breakfast cereal gets soggy?
Eleven-year-old Paul Simmons did. So he invented the Anti-Soggy Cereal
Bowl. It's a double bowl with springs arranged so that you use just the
right amount of milk.
Here are some more inspiring kid inventions:
And here are two books about girls inventors:
Elsie's Invention by Mary Mapes Dodge
The Big Balloon Race by Eleanor Coerr
The United States Patent and Trademark Office has a website
for kids and parents. It explains what patents, trademarks, copyrights and
trade secrets are, and how to apply for a patent:
Don't forget to keep adding to your
"Inventions" section in your After School Treats notebook! Someday, maybe kids
will be reading about YOU!!!