Special Report

Everyday Products Invented by Kids

Source: Basilio Briceño / Wikimedia Commons

Braille
> Invented by: Louis Braille
> Age when invented: 15
> Invented in: 1824

Braille, the system of elevated dots that allow millions of vision-impaired people to read and write, was invented by Louis Braille in the early 19th century. The French youngster created the system at the age of 15 while he was attending the National Institute for Blind Youth in Paris. The system he invented was derived from a code for sending military messages.

Source: Robertcsjodin, Avero AB / Wikimedia Commons

Trampoline
> Invented by: George Nissen
> Age when invented: 16
> Invented in: 1930

Inspired by trapeze artists, George Nissen designed what he originally called the bouncing rig, a canvas sheet that was connected to a rectangular frame with tire inner tubes. The 16-year-old gymnast used his invention to perform a backward somersault. Today, the famous contraption is referred to as the trampoline.

Source: COLORED PENCIL magazine / Flickr

Popsicle
> Invented by: Frank Epperson
> Age when invented: 11
> Invented in: 1905

Many food products have been invented by accident, and the popsicle is one of them. Frank Epperson, 11 years old in 1905, combined a soft drink with soda water powder and water and left the mixture outside one winter night in San Francisco. Epperson showed the frozen concoction to his friends but didn’t do anything with his new product until he applied for a patent in 1923. He later renamed the item “popsicle” and sold the rights to it two years later to the Joe Lowe Company.

Source: gawriloff / iStock

Swim Flippers
> Invented by: Benjamin Franklin
> Age when invented: 11
> Invented in: Early 1700s

No list of product inventions would be complete without including at least one of the innovations of Benjamin Franklin. We know Franklin invented the bifocals and the lightning rod as an adult, but his inventive streak started much earlier. Around 1717, at the age of 11, Franklin developed swim flippers that were worn on the hands rather than the feet. Franklin was a vigorous advocate of swimming and was recognized for his contributions to this healthful endeavor by being inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame. Versions of the swim fins are still used to this day.

Source: burakkarademir / iStock

Earmuffs
> Invented by: Chester Greenwood
> Age when invented: 15
> Invented in: 1873

Like many teenagers who live in Maine, Chester Greenwood loved to go ice skating. However, he was allergic to wool hats — the only real option in ear protection at the time. So Greenwood asked his grandmother to sew beaver fur or flannel on a wire headband that had hoops at either end. Whether or not these were the first earmuffs or merely an improvement on the existing invention remains a matter of debate. Either way, the popularity of the item took off and Greenwood went on to build a factory to produce earmuffs. Greenwood didn’t stop inventing, eventually accumulating more than 100 patents.

Source: Courtesy of Walmart.com

Hands-On Basketball
> Invented by: Chris Hass
> Age when invented: 9
> Invented in: 1994

Chris Hass was only 9 years old when he developed a basketball that would make it easier for for kids to make a shot. The product puts quite a spin on the standard basketball, with a colorful striped base stamped with two hand prints indicating the correct places to hold the ball. Hass brought his creation to life for an Invention Convention competition held at his school, and although he didn’t win, he earned an even greater reward — selling hundreds of thousands of basketballs worldwide.