Today we celebrate the youth. More particularly, clever youngsters through the ages who have come up with great inventions at an early age.

17 January is the birthday of Benjamin Franklin (17 Jan 1706 – 17 April 1790). We all know Franklin as one of the founding fathers of the United States, but what is perhaps less well known is that he is also the inventor of swim fins (what became flippers), at the tender age of 12. In recognition of this fact, 17 January is celebrated as Kid Inventors’ Day.

Childhood - when our minds are open, thinking is uninhibited and the world is a place of wonder.(© All Rights Reserved)
Childhood – when our minds are open, thinking is uninhibited and the world is a place of wonder.
(© All Rights Reserved)

The Kid Inventors’ Day website states some interesting facts. Apparently about half a million children and teens invent gadgets and games each year. Some of the brilliant inventions by youngsters include braille (1824, Louis Braille, age 15), earmuffs (1873, Chester Greenwood, age 15), popsicles (1905, Frank Epperson, age 11), water skis (1922, Ralph Samuelson, age 18), the trampoline (1930, George Nissen, age 16), and of course Benjamin Franklin’s swim fins. The site also claims the television as a child invention, but I’m not too sure about that, especially since there’s such disagreement as to who actually deserves the credit for this invention.

To be honest, I am not surprised that so many well known items were invented by children and teens. In fact, if it wasn’t for the admin around patenting etc, I am sure more inventions may have been credited to kids who probably thought about many concepts before the more famous inventors credited with the eventual inventions.

Given their limitless imagination, uninhibited creativity and sheer energy, young people appear almost destined to come up with great ideas. I believe the great inventors through the ages were probably those people who managed to retain some of this innovative spark into adulthood, somehow managing to avoid having their creativity and imagination curbed by the conventions, norms, biases and prejudices (and medication!) clouding most grown-ups’ minds.

So, on this day, let’s celebrate the great inventions created by kids, and let’s all try to foster and regain some of their ability to live, think and create without inhibitions.


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