You may think of inventors as geniuses with years of experience, but some of the coolest inventions actually came from kids!
In 1858, 15-year-old Chester Greenwood invented earmuffs. He hated hats and hated cold ears even more. So he tied fur patches to a headband and invented the first earmuffs.
Robert Patch was only 6 years old when he turned the model truck into a children’s toy. The boy created a toy truck with parts that could be taken apart and rebuilt into different vehicles. Patch’s truck was patented way back in 1963, but is still selling in toy stores today.
Frank Epperson accidentally stumbled across the Popsicle when he was 11. One frigid night, he left his drink outside with a stirring stick inside. The next morning, he found a frozen drink, and the world’s first Popsicle was born.
Krysta Morlan was in 10th grade when she invented the cast cooler, a device that pumps air into a cast and relieves irritation. But Krysta wasn’t done yet. She also invented the Waterbike, a bike-like vehicle you put in the water and power by pedaling.
Ryan Patterson was working at Burger King when he saw a translator ordering for a deaf friend. That sparked Ryan’s imagination and he soon invented a glove with sensors that translate sign language into written word.
Louis Braille was only 15 when he invented his own language for the blind. Braille, named after its inventor, uses a series of dots that people can trace their hands over and read.
Kids have created some of the coolest gadgets and also helped a lot of people. What invention would you like to create?
“blackberry watermelon popsicle” Flickr photo by stu_spivack
I know you’re sick of hearing it, but yes, too much sugar is bad for you. Why, you ask? Good question. Well…
It Can Cause Tooth Decay. You take really good care of your teeth, right? You brush; you floss, and your smile is flawless. But if you’re drinking sugary sodas, you could be destroying all that hard work. Sugary drinks contain an acid that weakens enamel (the hard coating that protects your teeth), leaving your choppers vulnerable to cavities.
You Could Gain Weight.
You already know that eating too many calories and not exercising enough can cause your body to produce fat. But did you know that sugar alone can cause weight gain? It can. Sugar is high in calories and not very filling, which means it’s easy to overeat sugary foods. Limit your sugar, and you could avoid those extra pounds.
It Is Hiding Where You Least Expect It. Many products at the store have corn syrup (a form of sugar) added to them to make them taste better. Peanut butter, ketchup, even canned soups! So even if you think you’re eating healthy, check the label! You may be getting more sugar than you think.
You Could Crash and Burn! Have you ever eaten a bucketful of Halloween candy? First, you had a burst of energy, but pretty soon you crashed hard and felt sick and sluggish. That’s because sugar is a carbohydrate (the stuff that gives your body energy). When carbohydrates are eaten in moderation, your body knows how to handle them. But if you eat too much, your body freaks out and crashes and you feel terrible.
Cut down on sugar and keep your body healthy. You’re stuck with it for the rest of your life!
On February 2, more than 3,000 Donald Trump supporters crammed into an athletic club in Milford, New Hampshire to hear the Republican candidate speak. The place was buzzing with excitement. Before Trump came on, a group of people went onto the stage and delivered speeches. This included some of Trump’s campaign managers and former United States Senator Scott Brown. Continue reading →
Are you ready for the winter weather? Winter Storm Jonas is coming to the East Coast! I am ready with a nice, big pile of books to read, some hot cocoa mix, and all the ingredients needed to bake something yummy.
Here are some other ideas for things to do on a snowy weekend.
It all started in 2013, when Shea Stollenwerk, then eight years old, asked for a new hand for Christmas. Shea was born with a partial right hand, which restricts her ability to do things that other kids take for granted.
Shea practices picking up objects with her new hand. Photo courtesy of Frankie Flood.
“My mom went online” to look for help, says Shea, who lives in Mukowango, Wisconsin. Shea’s mother, Ranee, soon learned about a community of artists, designers, and scientists who are making big breakthroughs with prosthetic (artificial) hands.
Frankie Flood, a professor at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, was among the designers who saw Ranee’s online request. Flood enlisted help from fellow professor Adream Blair and their students, who were learning how to make designs using a 3-D printer, a device that can create layers of material, like plastic or metal, one on top of the other, to produce solid objects.
“We made a mold of Shea’s hand out of plaster,” Flood explains about the beginning of the process. “We made a cast, and then we 3-D scanned her hand.”
A LOW-COST SOLUTION
Flood emphasizes that Shea’s “robo-hand” is not like devices that medical professionals make for people who have lost limbs. Such devices can cost thousands of dollars, whereas a “robo-hand” can be printed for less than $50.
While being fitted in Flood’s laboratory, Shea got to choose the color of her new hand. She went with bright pink. She now has a pink hand, a purple hand, and a purple and pink one, and can do things that she couldn’t do before, like peel potatoes, pick up objects, and catch a ball.
Flood and his team have since built hands for six other local children. Indirectly, they have helped dozens more, by posting their designs online so that people around the world can print them out. Flood is also working on prosthetic legs for military veterans who were injured on the battlefield. “Without a covering, the [prosthetic] leg is kind of ugly and plain,” Flood says. “Soldiers want something that will restore the shape of their leg and make it cooler to look at when they’re playing sports.”
As for Shea, the aspiring musician can now play her viola with help from an adaptive device that Flood’s team created. “Nothing is ever going to hold her back,” Shea’s father, Steve, told a local reporter. “She is going to do what she wants to do, and we are going to be there to help her.”
In 2006, sculptor Mark Borella felt helpless when his friends’ son was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Borella wanted to give the friends something to honor their son, but he couldn’t think of anything suitable. Finally, he turned to a jar of leftover clay and molded the clay into smiles.
On the last day of the young man’s life, Borella brought a handful of smiles to his friends’ house. “I know there is nothing I can say or do to make you feel better,” he said. “So I thought I would bring you some smiles to help you get your smile back. I call them ‘Seeds of Happiness.’”
When word spread about the little sculptures, and people kept asking to buy them, Borella decided to start a business. Soon, his staff grew too large for his house, and Seeds of Happiness settled into a small building in St. Louis, Missouri, where about a dozen people work.
“We’re very laid back,” says employee Sophie Williamson. “We have a lot of fun. We always say that all this fun we have, we put it right back into our work.”
Each month, Seeds of Happiness ships more than 40,000 “seeds” to customers in the United States, Canada, Germany, England, Australia, and elsewhere. The company also sells T-shirts, caps, and other clothing.
“Leprechaun Seeds of Happiness” in the making
To make a seed, clay is shaped into a ball, and then the eyes and mouth are drawn in. “We poke the eyes with chopsticks,” says Borella. Next, an employee adds other features, like a hat or a beard. The seed is then put into a kiln to bake. About 15,000 seeds are baked at a time.
When the seeds come out of the kiln, an employee presses the bottom of each one so that the figure can stand up. The seeds are then baked a second time. Finally, they are painted and ready to be shipped.
“Everything in here,” says Borella, “is based on smiles, happiness, and being funny.”
How can you ski if there’s no snow? When the temperature is unseasonably warm, and no snow falls from the sky, experts go out at night to make artificial snow. These people are called “Snowmakers.”
One such expert is Ken Mack, the Manager of Snowmaking at Loon Mountain Ski Resort in Lincoln, New Hampshire. Starting at the age of 10, Mack groomed the slopes of the local mountain every weekend with his Grandpa Roy. Using a specialized machine called a groomer, grandfather and grandson would move and flatten the snow to make it easier to ski.
“I always loved being on the mountain at night,” said Mack, who was hired at Loon Mountain as a groomer before learning how to make snow. Now in his 16th season at Loon, Mack has done such a great job directing his crew of about 40 that he was nationally recognized in 2014 with HKD’s “I AM a Snowmaker Award.” HKD sells snowmaking equipment and honors a top snowmaker each year.
Mack and Kaitlin stand under a tower gun, which is used to make artificial snow for ski slopes.
Mack is pleased with the snowmaking system of tower guns that Loon recently installed. You have to pump air and water into a hose, which travels up the “tower” part of the snow gun. Pressurized water then shoots out the top of the machine and hits the atmosphere, freezing into snow before it hits the ground. Although snow can be artificially made in temperatures of up to 28 degrees, the ideal conditions are around 10 degrees with no wind. “It’s hard to control a ‘snowstorm’ in the wind,” Mack said.
Mack works with Ralph Lewis, Vice President of Skiing Operations at Loon. Instead of checking emails each day, Lewis checks the ski slopes. He takes a ride to the top of the mountain and then skis the trails, evaluating the conditions. He wants to ensure a great day of skiing for everyone. Later in the afternoon, he starts planning the snowmaking for the coming night.
Lewis said that artificial snowmaking can make or break a ski resort. Loon invested in snowmaking early on, when other ski resorts did not. Some of those resorts had to shut down. When asked where Loon would be without snowmaking, Lewis said, “There would be no ski area. Snowmaking gives us the flexibility to open the mountain.”
Snowmakers work through long, cold nights, but they truly believe it is worth it. “It’s fun to see the smiles [afterwards],” Lewis said. “That’s the rewarding part of the job.”
On December 6, New York City’s Broadway was rocking out for the opening night of School of Rock. The new musical, which is playing at the Winter Garden Theatre, is based on the 2003 hit movie starring Jack Black. Continue reading →