When kids get creative
What do swimming flippers, popsicles, trampolines, Braille and earmuffs have in common? They were invented by kids.
Do you think you could you invent something ground breaking?
Today is Kid Inventors’ Day, marked each year on January 17 because it’s the birthday of Benjamin Franklin. Franklin was 12 when he created paddles for his hands that would help him swim faster — an invention that led to the modern flipper.
Kids can be very creative and can see things in a way that adults don’t. Many of the world’s most famous inventors say that they began inventing things when they were kids, said Thad Parsons, who works at the National Inventors Hall of Fame and Museum in Alexandria. Their early inventions usually didn’t work out that well, but that didn’t matter.
“While their invention when they were 8, 9 or 10 may not have been completely unique, may not have been successful, it was the attempts that were important,” Parsons said. “The investigation of how something worked, trying to figure out a better way to do it, eventually led them later in life to continue to push for . . . an invention that changed the modern world.”
So if you’ve ever had an idea for a new or improved product, tool or game, do something with it! In honor of Kid Inventors’ Day, KidsPost asked some experts for advice on things kids can do to get started if they have good ideas.
●Make a prototype, which is a fancy word for a version of your idea, using items you might find at home or in a hardware store. At the very least it will help you figure out if your idea is really as good as you think. You’ll also learn how to think more creatively and critically (noticing what didn’t work so you can fix it next time).
●Participate in an inventors program. Programs such as First Lego League encourage kids to come up with new ideas that can solve global problems, which is great training for a budding inventor. The organization Invent Now runs school-based clubs and camps, including week-long camps this summer in Germantown, Vienna, Chevy Chase and Waldorf. Your parents can find more information at http://www.invent.org/clubne.
●Enter a competition. Competitions can give you helpful feedback and possibly get your idea noticed or even produced. Thirteen-year-old Sierra Bouthner of Westminster, Md., invented a math video game when she was 11 and was a finalist in a national invention competition held by Sports Authority last year. Inventions “keep your mind going and help you think of new ideas,” she said. See the list on this page of some competitions to enter.
●Protect your idea. Many countries, including the United States, have a system that allows inventors to get what’s called a patent. If you have a patent on an invention, then no one else can make and sell that invention without your permission. To learn more about this, you and your parents can check out the Web site of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, at http://www.uspto.gov.
The Journey of the Noble Gnarble
He dreamt a dream of swimming up to see the sky above,
Lit up by the sun in colour he just knew he’d love.
He dreamt a dream of swimming up to see the sky above,
Lit up by the sun in colours he just knew he’d love.
“I’m swimming up above the waves to see the sky of blue;
I’ve never seen it even once, and now it’s time I do.
But the other gnarbles warned him that he shouldn’t swim so high,
As did the blyfish family that always swam close by.
“No gnarble’s ever swam that high, it simply isn’t done,
A blyfish might just make the trip, but we know you’re not one
“Gnarbles don’t have flappers like all us blyfish do,
You don’t even have koggers like the swimming gungaloo.
But the gnarble didn’t listen and he left his friends behind.
No silly blyfish family could ever change his mind
He swam up past the boulders made of spongy gishy-gosh
And flew right by the herd of floating feeding fipple-fosh.
His fins were getting tired but he knew he couldn’t stop,
So he kept swimming faster, trying hard to reach the top
Just then a hungry warckel blocked the gnarble with his fin.
He grabbed him by his tail and brought him right up to his chin.
“I’ve never had a gnarble, this would be a tasty treat,
But you’re much too thin and tiny for big old me to eat.”
So the gnarble just kept swimming, and didn’t dare to stop,
Until he heard the sound of a great big bubble POP
He turned around to see that he was in a bit of trouble.
The sound he heard was that of a silver subbalubble.
The gnarble tried to hide somewhere that he could safely stay.
But the subbalubble saw him and was headed right his way
Oh Mister Subbalubble, please don’t eat me up for lunch,
I’ll bring a yummy plant instead, for you to sit and munch.”
“I’ve never seen a gnarble try to swim this high before.
What is it, little fishy, that you’re up here looking for?
If I could see the sky just once, I’d be a happy fish.
To do one flip above the waves would be my only wish.”
“Well sorry silly gnarble, but I cannot let you go.
It’s subbalubble dinner time–you should’ve stayed below.”
The gnarble cowered back in fear and shook from fin to fin,
But then he saw a school of fish called shiny glimmy gli
The glimmy glin swam right past the subbalubble’s face,
And the gnarble grabbed a glimmy fin and quickly left that place.
The gnarble swam up higher still, until he saw some light.
He knew it had to be the sun and, oh was it a sight
Closely by a plink was sleeping, lying on his back.
He rubbed his giant belly as he dreamed about a snack
The gnarble smiled happily and set his fins a swimming
But he didn’t see the plink wake up, for he was busy grinning
The gnarble almost made it to the surface of the sea,
But the plink chomped down and swallowed him as if he were a pea.
The gnarble sat inside the plink and started softly crying.
He’d never make it out, so was there any point in trying?
But the Gnarble knew he’d come too close to quit and give up now,
“There must be someway out of here. There’s got to be somehow.
So the gnarble swam around inside, trying very hard to think,
And while he did, his floppy tail was tickling the plink
The plink was very ticklish and he couldn’t hold it in.
He tried to cover up his laugh with his giant plinkish fin.
But his mouth was open long enough for the gnarble to swim free.
He swam so fast the hungry plink did not have time to see.
Far above the ocean floor, above the gnarbles’ homes,
Above the blyfish families and dancing water-gnomes
Above the swimming gungaloo and slimy dundledun,
A gnarble flipped above the waves and smiled at the sun.