Top 10 Greatest Things You Didn't Know Were Invented by Kids

Script written by Matthew Manouli.

Believe it or not, there are tons of amazing kid inventions that changed the world. Whether it’s something fun like George Nissen’s trampoline or Frank Epperson’s Popsicle, or something more serious like Alissa Chavez’s Hot Seat, which alerts parents if they’ve left their kids alone in the car, these are some of the great discoveries dreamed up by children. WatchMojo counts down ten of the most amazing products created by kids.

Special thanks to our users urbanwatch69 and tandee82 for suggesting this idea! Check out the voting page at WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top%20Ten%20Things%20You%20Never%20Knew%20Were%20Invented%20by%20Kids


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Script written by Matthew Manouli.

Top 10 Greatest Things You Didn't Know Were Invented by Kids

Step aside adults; the children have got this. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Things You Never Knew Were Invented By Kids.

For this list, we’ll be looking at familiar objects that were thought up and invented by kids. Don’t worry teens; you’re included too.

#10: Popsicle
Frank Epperson

Here’s a reason not to tell your kids to clean up. In 1905, after mixing soda powder and water in a cup with a stir stick, 11-year-old Frank Epperson of San Francisco abandoned his concoction on the porch for the night. The weather dropped to record lows for the city, and the next day Epperson realized he’d created a pretty (ahem)... cool treat. He then let the concept lie for 18 years, before marketing and patenting it as the Epsicle in 1923. It was later changed to popsicle, after his children referred to it as “Pop’s ‘sicle”. Today, over 2 billion popsicles are sold each year and are a summer must.

#9: Earmuffs
Chester Greenwood

The cold’s to blame for this invention, too. In 1873, while ice-skating in Farmington, Maine, 15-year-old Chester Greenwood was bothered by his cold ears. Allergic to the wool used in then-popular hats with earflaps, Greenwood got creative. He took wire, shaped it into circles, and then asked his grandmother to sew what was either flannel or beaver fur onto them. He patented the idea by age 19, and earmuffs would go on to be used by American soldiers in WWI. Current residents of Farmington now hold a parade to celebrate Greenwood and his invention, which is still seen as an effective way to warm our ears.

#8: The Hot Seat
Alissa Chavez

From science fair project to potentially lifesaving consumer childcare product – this small pad with a sensor can be placed by parents under an infant’s booster or car seat. If the parent then walks further than 20 feet from the car, an alarm will sound on their phone and key-chain. The car can also be equipped with an alarm to alert people nearby that there’s an unattended infant in the vehicle. Growing up very close to children in her mother’s daycare, 17-year-old Alissa Chavez got the idea after researching the grim statistics of child hot car deaths. The product, now patented, is available through her company “Assila”.

#7: Water Talkie
Richie Stachowski

Snorkeling can give you access to some awe-inspiring underwater sights. The only problem? You can’t communicate with your friends until you’re back on the surface. Having experienced this frustration firsthand on a trip to Hawaii, 11-year-old Richie Stachowski decided to find a solution. After researching how sound travels underwater and some experimentation, he created the Water Talkie - a simple but effective device that lets people talk to each other up to 15 feet away underwater. Following his pitch, Toys’R’Us ordered 50,000 Water Talkies, and Stachowski opened his own company, Short Stack LLC. Three years and a few products later, he sold it for a reported $7 million.

#6: All-Electronic Television
Philo Farnsworth

When you hear “farm boy,” you rarely think “great with electronics”. But Philo Farnsworth is considered one of the inventors of electronic TV, coming up with the idea for an “image dissector” at age 15. At the time, mechanical televisions worked by scanning pictures through a wheel with holes that would spin around. But Farnsworth wanted to scan images in a line pattern instead. He actually got the idea from the lines he would create while plowing fields. As a 21-year-old, he finished building the dissector. He later won a lengthy patent lawsuit with RCA, and after his death, was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

#5: The Modern Snowmobile
Joseph-Armand Bombardier

Living in rural Quebec in the early 1900s, Joseph-Armand Bombardier was always a tinkerer. Given an old Model T engine at 15, Bombardier worked on it with his brother, and in 1922, came up with his first snowmobile. Well, it was just a sled and propeller powered by the Model T engine, but it was a start. He later significantly improved the design, swapping out the propeller for caterpillar tracks, and began marketing a multi-passenger vehicle in the 1930s and ‘40s. In the 1950s, he got back to his initial dream, producing the lightweight, more motorcycle-sized variety of ski-doo that’s still used today.

#4: Trampoline
George Nissen

In 1930, after watching trapeze artists fall into their safety nets, 16-year-old George Nissen, a high school gymnast, thought it would be cool if the nets allowed the acrobats to bounce back up again and again. So he went out and found a rectangular metal frame, stretched canvas over and created what he dubbed ‘the bouncing rig’. We don’t want to see how the trial and error testing went for this one. Later, in university, his coach, Gary Griswold, helped him perfect his model. While they travelled the Southwest United States together, they learned the Spanish word for diving board, ‘trampolin’, and adopted this word for the invention.

#3: Calculator
Blaise Pascal

Sure, philosophers might know him from “Pascal’s Wager”, but this child prodigy gave us something the whole world can appreciate: the calculator. In 1642, at age 18, Pascal wanted to help his father calculate taxes, and came up with Pascal’s Calculator, later renamed “Pascaline”. It could add or subtract two numbers, and repeat to produce multiplication or division. He released it to the public in 1645, and four years later, the King gave him the patent. Unfortunately, the calculator was quite heavy, expensive and known for mechanical faults, and thus never saw commercial success. Others created calculating machines before and after, but Pascal is regarded as the father of the mechanical calculator.

#2: Pancreatic Cancer Nanotubes Test
Jack Andraka

15-year-old Jack Andraka invented something that may very well save tens of thousands of lives. Because of the lack of funding for the less prevalent pancreatic cancers, ELISA – the detection method – was expensive, unreliable, and hadn’t been updated in over 60 years. With the recent discovery of carbon nanotubes however, Andraka and his mentor at John Hopkins University were able to create a more reliable test at a fraction of the cost. His initial idea was reportedly rejected by 199 labs before one professor gave him a chance. He went on to win the youth achievement Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award and $75,000 at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- Makin Bacon
Abbey Fleck

- Water Skiing
Ralph Samuelson

- KidCare Riding Car
Spencer Whale

#1: Braille Alphabet
Louis Braille

Having lost his vision in a childhood accident, Louis Braille attended a school for the blind. The books had raised letters so the students could learn with their fingers, but this caused the books to be bulky and expensive. In search of a more effective alternative, Braille learned a military code called “night writing”. By 1824, he had developed a similar but simplified style of code based on 6 dots. He was just 15 years old at the time. Today, there’s an estimated 285 million visually impaired people in the world. Braille’s code has been translated into many languages, making the written word more efficient and accessible for the visually impaired across the globe.

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