Have you ever thought of an invention that could change the world or a genius idea on how to improve a product that already exists? I can’t even count how many brilliant ideas I’ve had only to see them advertised on television years later. These products become a reality because their inventors work hard and believe in themselves. Whether you’re an adult or still making your way through school, you can become an inventor. In fact, there are many inventions used today that affect quality of life and the quality of our planet, and they were invented by kids!

Bio-plastic

Elif Bilgin, age 16

Elif Bilgin, from Istanbul, Turkey, won the Google Science Award in 2013, at age 16, for her invention of a bio-plastic made from banana peels. She successfully produced a durable plastic that is so easy to make, you could do it at home. Her banana peel-based bio-plastic can be used in the production of cosmetic prostheses, the insulation of cables, and more.

Elif’s invention makes use of a waste material and cuts down the necessity of petroleum based plastics that end up in landfills.

 

Braille

Louis Braille, age 12

Louis Braille, born January 4, 1809 in the small town of Coupvray, located outside of Paris, France, went blind after an accident when he was three years old. Accepted into a special school for the blind when he was ten, Louis learned about “night writing,” a complex code using 12 dots that allowed soldiers to communicate silently on the battlefield. When he was 12 years old, Louis simplified the code to use only six dots, creating what would be called “Braille” as a communication tool for the blind. By the time he was 15, Louis published the first-ever Braille book and went on to add symbols for math and music. Braille began to spread worldwide in 1868, after Louis’ death, when a group of British men, now known as the Royal National Institute for the Blind, took up the cause.

If you are interested in learning how Braille works, consider watching this YouTube video that illustrates a condensed overview of the code.

 

Cancer Detecting Test Strip

Jack Andraka, age 15

Inspired yet? Check out this TEDx talk by 15-year-old Jack Andraka, who invented a test strip that detects early signs of pancreatic cancer. More than 85 percent of all pancreatic cancers are diagnosed late, when someone has less than a two percent chance of survival. Jack intends to change that.

 

OinkASaurus

Fabian Fernandez-Han, age 12

Back in 2010, then 12-year-old Fabian Fernandez-Han thought up OinkASaurus, an app that illustrates to the user how much money they might have earned by saving and/or investing their money, instead of spending it. Fabian believes that the huge amounts of money kids spend on things they don’t need could instead be saved and invested for their future. The preteen’s invention even won him the 2010 NYSE Financial Future Challenge, sponsored by the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) Foundation.

There are also many STEM inventions created by kids in the app store designed to encourage future inventors.

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Earmuffs

Chester Greenwood, age 15

Have you ever worn earmuffs to keep warm in the cold winter months? Then you can thank Chester Greenwood for inventing the headgear back in 1873, when he was only 15 years old. Greenwood spent much of his childhood outside, either delivering goods from his family’s farm or playing at the pond. While ice skating one cold afternoon, Chester noticed a problem; as the temperature dropped, the cold became impossible to bear. Chester had his Gram help him fashion insulating material to the ends of some bent wire, creating the first ever Greenwood Champion Ear Protectors, as he called them.

If you have ever wondered about other inventions that are commonly used in the cold, check out these Fun Facts for 11 Inventions Used in Winter.

Have you encountered a problem that you used math, science, or engineering to solve? Whether your invention solves a small issue or a global matter of contention, we want to hear about it. Enter K12’s STEM Contest to share your creation for the chance to win some awesome prizes.

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