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Stories about Great Thinkers and Famous Inventors

Young Inventors


Young Inventor

Young Inventor

Courtesy of Laurel Middle School,
If I were to tell you that Thomas Alva Edison had shown signs of inventive genius at an early age, you probably would not be surprised. Mr. Edison achieved enormous fame with his lifelong contributions of volumes of inventive technology. He received the first of his 1,093 U.S. patents by age 22. In the book, Fire of Genius, Ernest Heyn reported on a remarkable resourceful young Edison, though some of his earliest tinkering clearly lacked merit.

Age 6

By the age of six, Thomas Edison's experiments with fire were said to have cost his father a barn. Soon after that, it is reported that young Edison tried to launch the first human balloon by persuading another youth to swallow large quantities of effervescing powders to inflate himself with gas. Of course, the experiments brought quite unexpected results!

Chemistry and electricity held great fascination for this child, Thomas Edison. By his early teens, he had designed and perfected his first real invention, an electrical cockroach control system. He glued parallel strips of tinfoil to a wall and wired the strips to the poles of a powerful battery, a deadly shock for the unsuspecting insect.

As a dynamo of creativity, Mr. Edison stood as decidedly unique; but as a child with a curious, problem-solving nature, he was not alone. Here are some more "inventive children" to know and appreciate.

Age 14

At age 14, one schoolboy invented a rotary brush device to remove husks from wheat in the flour mill run by his friend's father. The young inventor's name? Alexander Graham Bell.

Age 16

At 16, another of our junior achievers saved pennies to buy materials for his chemistry experiments. While still a teenager, he set his mind on developing a commercially viable aluminum refining process. By age 25, Charles Hall received a patent on his revolutionary electrolytic process.

Age 19

While only 19 years old, another imaginative young person designed and built his first helicopter. In the summer of 1909, it very nearly flew. Years later, Igor Sikorsky perfected his design and saw his early dreams change aviation history. Silorsky was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1987.

The are more childhood problem-solvers that we can mention. Perhaps you've heard about:

  • Samuel Colt's childhood experience with underwater explosives;
  • Fourteen-year-old Robert Fulton's manually operated paddlewheel; and
  • Guglielmo Marconi's early mechanical/electrical tinkering.
  • Even television tinker, Philo T. Farnsworth, conceived his optical scanning idea at the tender age of 14.
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