There’s no age limit on invention, and here we reveal how commonplace items like the television, trampoline and even the snowmobile were invented by children.
10. Ralph Samuelson – Water Skiing
Ralph Samuelson started work on his idea for water skis using staves from wooden barrels. After trying other methods like snow skis, he eventually refined the design by constructing skis from pine and curving the tips. He broke his prototype jumping wakes and slightly modified the design, successfully water skiing for the first time in 1925 aged twenty-two.
9. Chester Greenwood – Earmuff
The earmuff was invented as long ago as 1873 by a fifteen-year-old called Chester Greenwood. The idea came to him while ice skating and he subsequently asked his grandmother to make the first pair to his design, using pads of fur attached to loops of wire. Greenwood became a prolific inventor and competent businessman.
8. Joseph-Armand Bombardier – Snowmobile
Joseph-Armand Bombardier had been building mechanical toys for two years before his first proper invention in 1922 at the age of fifteen. This invention was the snowmobile, and Bombardier constructed the prototype from two wooden sleds driven by a Model T Ford engine and a wooden propeller he had made himself. His company remains one of the leading manufacturers of snowmobiles.
7. Param Jaggi – Algae Mobile
Throughout his childhood, Param Jaggi was interested in scientific projects relating to the environment. In 2008, at the age of fourteen, Jaggi built the first version of the Algae Mobile. The device attaches to a motor vehicle’s exhaust pipe and converts emitted carbon dioxide into oxygen using algae photosynthesis.
6. Frank Epperson – Ice Pop
The ice pop was invented back in 1905 by eleven-year-old Frank Epperson. It is said that the boy created the first ice pop by accident when he left a sugary drink with a stirring stick in it on the porch overnight. Being a cold night, Epperson came out the next day to find his concoction frozen, and the ice pop was born. He developed a range of fruit flavours and later sold his patent to the Popsicle Corporation.
5. Jack Andraka – Sensor for Early-Stage Pancreatic Cancer Screening
In 2013, fifteen-year-old Jack Andraka invented a sensor similar to diabetes testing strips that measures levels of mesothelin, a cancer biomarker for pancreatic cancer. Andraka’s sensor is thought to be ninety per cent accurate in detecting the presence of mesothelin. It is claimed it has a higher level of accuracy and is much cheaper and quicker than other testing methods.
4. George Nissen – Trampoline
As a high school student, George Nissen was a keen gymnast and after seeing the safety nets used for circus trapeze acts he thought this would be a great tool for his training. In 1934, Nissen, aged twenty, and his coach built a prototype trampoline. Nissen got the word from the Spanish for “springboard”, and his invention led to trampolining becoming an international sport.
3. Philo Farnsworth – Television
During 1921, when he was fourteen years old, Philo Farnsworth spent his summer working out the theory behind what he would later call the image dissector. Farnsworth created the first working model in 1927, aged twenty-one, and demonstrated the first all-electronic television to the public in 1934, aged twenty-eight.
2. Louis Braille – Braille
Losing his sight completely at the age of three following an accident involving an awl and a subsequent infection, Louis Braille quickly adapted to his disability. Inspired by the French Army captain, Charles Barbier, who developed a code that soldiers could use silently and without light, Braille developed a tactile system of communication specifically for blind people. He first presented his work in 1824 when he was fifteen years old. Braille has since been adapted for use in many international languages.
1. Blaise Pascal – Calculator
In 1642, in order to help his father with the tedious arithmetic required in his tax collection duties, nineteen-year-old Blaise Pascal started to develop mechanical calculating machines. He built fifty prototypes, and during the following decade produced twenty finished calculators. These calculators could add and subtract and Pascal continued to refine the design until his demise in 1662.