Did you know that Benjamin Franklin invented the first swim flippers nearly 300 years ago - at age 12?
Or that it was a kid who invented television? Water skis? Earmuffs? Or the popsicle? Every Jan. 17 (the birthday of Benjamin Franklin) is Kid Inventors Day, that day set aside each year to recognize the 500,000 children and teens who invent gadgets and games each year.
As technology makes incredible advances every day, it's kids who are at the forefront of a lot of those changes.
Just take the video gaming industry as one example, where programmer take kids' ideas to develop games that everyone can enjoy. Both homes and schools can be "kid laboratories" where children can develop their ideas. So here's some questions we can ask ourselves about helping kid inventors:
n Do we provide an open, creative atmosphere for kids to develop new ideas? Do we as parents and encourage those ideas? Can there be more than one solution to a problem? Do we "spoon feed" answers to kids' questions or do we give them the tools to find the answers on their own, encouraging them along the way?
n Do we reward kids for coming up with new ideas? School science and history fairs are a great venue where this can occur.
n Do we act as inventor role models? Are we innovative in the way we approach daily life? Do we take a different route to school or work each day, mixing up our routine?
n Do we encourage our local school boards to invest in "learning laboratories" where kids can create and learn?
These are all ways we can encourage kids to explore, learn and grow. So let's help them open up their world, explore new avenues and someday maybe one of those kids will find a cure for cancer, travel to Mars or end world hunger.