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Family Scooter by Wendy Ridley

Artist Dominic Wilcox Makes Children's Inventions a Reality

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Family Scooter by Wendy Ridley

Every once in a while, kids demonstrate a stroke of genius—and that moment deserves to be documented. Designer and inventor Dominic Wilcox (known for his tools to make breakfast more fun and his Variations on Normal blog) traveled to his hometown in Sunderland, England and enlisted the help of some young, bright minds. Called INVENTORS!, the collection celebrates the brilliance of children.

As part of the project—commissioned by The Cultural Spring, a company that runs programs for English children to help them think creatively—Wilcox conducted 19 workshops for children ages 4 through 12. During the two-hour sessions, he talked about the process of invention and showed them some of his own creations for inspiration. He also visited a charity for children with disabilities called Ocean Arts, and enlisted the help of parents, teachers, and other adults.

The Liftolater by Charlotte Scott

At the end of the workshop tour, Wilcox had over 600 inventions submitted by over 450 Sunderland children. He picked the best 60 and brought them to local manufacturers and Sunderland’s Fab Lab, who met with the young inventors to discuss their sketches and what they envisioned for the finished product. Then, the young inventors had four weeks to create a prototype or computer visualization.

Some of the ideas are so simple and innovative, that you'll be kicking yourself for not thinking of it yourself—like the Pringles Hook, which lets you get to the chips without getting your hand stuck in the tube. Other ideas are just plain adorable, like the Family Scooter, which is a lot like a tandem bicycle.

Wilcox found an empty lot on Fawcett Street in Sunderland and rented it for the INVENTORS! exhibition. You can see all the ideas from now until January 30 or explore the designs here.

PringlesHook by Georgia Dinsley, made real by Andy Mattocks

Family Scooter by Wendy Ridley, made real by Roger O’Brian

Talking Lunch Box by Lorraine at Ocean Arts, made real by Alistair MacDonald

Leaf Catcher byElsie Ronald, made real by Roger O’Brian

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11-Year-Old Creates a Better Way to Test for Lead in Water
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In the wake of the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, a Colorado middle schooler has invented a better way to test lead levels in water, as The Cut reports.

Gitanjali Rao, an 11-year-old seventh grader in Lone Tree, Colorado just won the 2017 Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge, taking home $25,000 for the water-quality testing device she invented, called Tethys.

Rao was inspired to create the device after watching Flint's water crisis unfold over the last few years. In 2014, after the city of Flint cut costs by switching water sources used for its tap water and failed to treat it properly, lead levels in the city's water skyrocketed. By 2015, researchers testing the water found that 40 percent of homes in the city had elevated lead levels in their water, and recommended the state declare Flint's water unsafe for drinking or cooking. In December of that year, the city declared a state of emergency. Researchers have found that the lead-poisoned water resulted in a "horrifyingly large" impact on fetal death rates as well as leading to a Legionnaires' disease outbreak that killed 12 people.

A close-up of the Tethys device

Rao's parents are engineers, and she watched them as they tried to test the lead in their own house, experiencing firsthand how complicated it could be. She spotted news of a cutting-edge technology for detecting hazardous substances on MIT's engineering department website (which she checks regularly just to see "if there's anything new," as ABC News reports) then set to work creating Tethys. The device works with carbon nanotube sensors to detect lead levels faster than other current techniques, sending the results to a smartphone app.

As one of 10 finalists for the Young Scientist Challenge, Rao spent the summer working with a 3M scientist to refine her device, then presented the prototype to a panel of judges from 3M and schools across the country.

The contamination crisis in Flint is still ongoing, and Rao's invention could have a significant impact. In March 2017, Flint officials cautioned that it could be as long as two more years until the city's tap water will be safe enough to drink without filtering. The state of Michigan now plans to replace water pipes leading to 18,000 households by 2020. Until then, residents using water filters could use a device like Tethys to make sure the water they're drinking is safe. Rao plans to put most of the $25,000 prize money back into her project with the hopes of making the device commercially available.

[h/t The Cut]

All images by Andy King, courtesy of the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge.

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Here's How to Turn an IKEA Box Into a Spaceship
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Since IKEA boxes are designed to contain entire furniture items, they could probably fit a small child once they’re emptied of any flat-packed component pieces. This means they have great potential as makeshift forts—or even as play spaceships, according to one of the Swedish furniture brand’s print ads, which was spotted by Design Taxi.

First highlighted by Ads of the World, the advertisement—which was created by Miami Ad School, New York—shows that IKEA is helping customers transform used boxes into build-it-yourself “SPÄCE SHIPS” for children. The company provides play kits, which come with both an instruction manual and cardboard "tools" for tiny builders to wield during the construction process.

As for the furniture boxes themselves, they're emblazoned with the words “You see a box, they see a spaceship." As if you won't be climbing into the completed product along with the kids …

Check out the ad below:

[h/t Design Taxi]


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