Here at the Lemelson Center, we believe that everyone is inventive, even—and especially—kids. Our Spark!Lab is dedicated to inspiring creativity in young people and we’re all so excited to hear about kids and teens flexing their inventive and problem-solving muscles. Here’s a round-up of some inspiring kid inventors:
What were you doing when you were a senior in high school? I was most likely inventing new reasons to break curfew, so these kids blow me out of the water.
Ionut Budisteanu, a 19-year-old from Romania, was awarded first place and received the Gordon E. Moore Award of $75,000 for inventing an inexpensive self-driving car. Ionut’s invention uses 3-D radar and mounted cameras that allows the car to detect traffic lanes, curbs, and the real-time position of the car. All of this for only $4,000!
Eesha Khare, an 18-year-old from Saratoga, CA, received the Intel Foundation Young Scientist Award of $50,000 for inventing a supercharger that can charge a cell phone in 20 to 30 seconds. Eesha’s invention is portable and flexible, and is able to last for 10,000 charges.
Late last year, our director, Art Molella, participated in the first annual Smithsonian Magazine American Ingenuity Awards. For him, one of the most inspiring moments was the acceptance speech by high school sophomore Jack Andraka, the Youth Achievement winner. Jack invented a paper sensor that can detect a protein linked to pancreatic cancer—for which he won him the grand prize at the 2012 Intel Science and Engineering Fair. Art reported, “Bursting with youthful creative energy, Andraka told us how an uncle’s illness prompted his amazingly simple invention.” Jack’s invention uses only a sixth of a drop of blood and takes only five minutes to produce accurate results.
In September, Spark!Lab partnered with ePals, an education media company and safe social learning network, for the second annual Invent It! Challenge. The contest challenged students to think about real-world problems and invent something that could help solve it. We received nearly 300 entries!
Each of the three challenges had winners in four different age categories. Winner Chase Lewis, a seventh grader from Chapel Hill, NC, visited the Lemelson Center recently. Chase’s invention was the Refugee Travois, which allows refugees to carry people—children or the elderly—long distances without too much strain on their backs. Chase even made his local news!
InvenTeams are teams of high school students, teachers, and mentors that receive grants up to $10,000 each to invent technological solutions to real-world problems. Each InvenTeam chooses its own problem to solve. Current InvenTeams are working on inventing wind turbines, a compost water heating system, a bacteria powered battery, and a pedestrian alert system. A team from Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology presented their emotive aid for combating autism at the National Museum of American History in March during the Open Minds exhibition of student inventions hosted by the Lemelson Center and the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance.