Young Inventors' Program"
Who is an inventor, anyway? Is an inventor just "a frazzled old man in a white coat with glasses and big hair?" Inventors are simply people - male or female, young or old - any race or creed - everyday people who solve problems. When someone brings a new solution to a problem, he or she is an inventor. Some solutions are simple. Some are complex. But all inventors have common traits:
In 1899, (then) U.S. Patent Office Commissioner Charles Duell allegedly reported to President William McKinley and the Congress that, "I recommend closing the Patent Office, since everything that can be invented has been invented." Since then Americans have invented the laser, the trampoline, the Frisbee, Life Savers, the Dixie cup, and Kleenex! New Hampshire young inventors have invented peppermint dentist gloves, a device that buzzes when someone tips back in a chair, and a musical toilet seat. What will be invented next?
Ordinary People - Extraordinary Ideas!
The following stories about inventors will help you realize that inventors are ordinary people who follow through on their creative ideas to make their dreams a reality.
"Baby, it's cold outside" may have been the phrase running through 13-year-old Chester Greenwood's head one cold December in 1873 in Farmington, Maine. To protect his ears while ice skating, he made loops of baling wire and, with his grandmother's help, padded the ends with beaver fur. In the beginning, his friends laughed at him. However, when they realized that he was able to stay outside skating long after they had gone inside freezing, they stopped laughing. Instead, they began to ask Greenwood to make ear covers for them, too. At age 17, Greenwood applied for a patent. For the next 60 years, Greenwood's factory made earmuffs. Greenwood went on to create more than 100 other inventions.
At the turn of the century, Mrs. Earl Dickson, an inexperienced cook, often burned and cut herself. Mr. Dickson, a Johnson & Johnson employee, got plenty of practice in hand bandaging. Out of concern for his wife's safety, he began to prepare bandages ahead of time so that his wife could apply them herself. By combining a piece of surgical tape and a piece of gauze, he fashioned the first crude adhesive strip bandage!
The term frisbee did not always refer to the familiar plastic disks we visualize flying through the air. Over 100 years ago in Bridgeport, Connecticut, William Russell Frisbie owned the Frisbie Pie Company and delivered his pies locally. All of his pies were baked in 10" round tins with raised edges, wide brims, six small holes in the bottom, and "Frisbies Pies" stamped on the bottom. Playing catch with the tins soon became a popular local sport. However, the tins were slightly dangerous when a toss was missed. It became the Yale custom to yell "Frisbie" when throwing a pie tin. In the 40s when plastic emerged, the pie-tin game was recognized as a manufacturable and marketable product.
Edible Pet Food Server
Suzanna Goodin was a six year-old girl with a problem. She had to feed her cat every day and wash the spoon she used. Suzanna did not like this job at all and decided she needed a way to get the food out the can without having to wash a dirty spoon. Suzanna went to her grandmother for help. Together they mixed up some dough and baked it in the shape of a spoon. It worked to scrape the food out of the can! Suzanna broke the spoon into pieces and added it to the food for her cat. Unfortunately the cat didn't like the biscuit. Suzanna added a "secret" ingredient she knew her cat liked. The result was a spoon that would get the food out of the can and could even be fed to the cat. Suzanna won the National Weekly Reader Invention Contest in 1987 with her invention.
Bette Graham hoped to be an artist, but circumstances led her into secretarial work. Graham was not, however, an accurate typist. Fortunately, she recalled that artists could correct their mistakes by painting over them with gesso. She invented a quick-drying "paint" to cover her typing mistakes. Graham first prepared the secret formula in her kitchen using a hand mixer, and her young son helped to pour the mixture into little bottles. In 1980, the Liquid Paper Corporation that Graham built was sold for over $47 million.
Through biographies and journals, you can learn about the process of inventing, as well as about individual inventors. Even though Thomas Edison was learning disabled - he was still our most prolific inventor. Robert Jarvik's grades weren't high enough to qualify him for medical school in the U.S., but he didn't let that stop him from inventing the artificial heart. You too can become an inventor!