Children of Invention

Updated February 21, 2017 | Factmonster Staff

A brain child is an original idea. Here are some kids who had great ideas which they turned into inventions. We call these kids “brain children.”

Two inspirational books for girl inventors are Elsie's Invention by Mary Mapes Dodge, and The Big Balloon Race by Eleanor Coerr.

  • Six-year-old Suzanna Goodin, tired of cleaning the cat food spoon, came up with the idea of an edible spoon-shaped cracker. She won a grand prize for her invention in the Weekly Reader National Invention Contest.
  • Eight-year-old Theresa Thompson and her 9-year-old sister Mary were the youngest sisters to receive a U.S. patent. They invented a solar tepee for a science fair project in 1960. They called the device a Wigwarm.
  • At age 9, Margaret Knight began working in a cotton mill, where she saw a steel-tipped shuttle fly out of a loom and hit a nearby worker. As a result, Margaret devised her first invention: a shuttle restraining device. She went on to invent the machine that makes the square-bottom paper bags we still use for groceries today. That machine was patented in 1871.
  • Eleven-year-old Jeanie Low received a patent on March 10, 1992, for inventing the Kiddie Stool—a foldup stool that fits under the sink so kids can unfold it, stand on it, and reach the sink on their own!
  • Becky Schroeder began her patenting career when she was 14 years old. She put phosphorescent paint on paper under her writing paper so that she could write in the dark. This invention was later used in all sorts of ways. Doctors use it in hospitals to read patients' charts at night without waking them, and astronauts use it when their electrical systems are turned down for recharging.
  • Fourteen-year-old Pamela Sica invented a push-button device that raises the floor of a car so that cargo can be raised and easily removed. Her invention won a grand prize for her age group in the Weekly Reader National Invention Contest. She wanted to patent her invention but found that it was too expensive.
  • Eight-year-old Chelsea Lannon received a patent in 1994 for her “pocket diaper,” a diaper that has a pocket that holds a baby wipe and baby powder puff. She got her idea while helping her mother with her baby brother—while she was still in kindergarten!
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