By Kendra Knisley

You don’t have to be an adult to be a great inventor. There are plenty of great inventors who got their start as kids. Think of America’s first kid inventor, Benjamin Franklin, who at the age of 11 made a pair of paddles for his hands to help him swim faster, which led to what we now know of as swim fins.

While kids can broaden their own inventive imaginations during every visit to Berkshire Museum, Kid Inventors’ Day is a special opportunity to put their skills to use tackling local and global challenges. Kid Inventors’ Day is an annual event held to honor the innovative spirit of young people from around the world and the numerous contributions of kid inventors.

Why are kids great inventors? They’re problem-solvers like Chester Greenwood, the 15-year-old who invented earmuffs to keep warm while ice-skating back in 1873.

They are creative designers and makers, like Margaret Knight, who preferred to build toys for her brothers than play with dolls while growing up in rural 19th-century Maine. Margaret devised her first invention at age 12 and eventually held more than 25 patents, including one for the paper bag folding machines still used today. She became known as “the Woman Edison” for her many inventions.

Kids are inquisitive, like Param Jaggi, who broke toys and electronics as a child to discover what was inside and invented a device that converts the harmful carbon dioxide emissions from a vehicle’s exhaust system into oxygen, before he was old enough to drive a car.

Observed on January 17th, the birthday of Benjamin Franklin, Kid Inventors’ Day also serves as the kick-off for the Smithsonian’s Spark!Lab Invent It Challenge. Visitors to Spark!Lab at the Berkshire Museum challenge-pg-hdr webare invited to imagine, explore, experiment, and learn how to submit their inventions to the Invent It Challenge for the chance to win cool prizes and make a difference!

No doubt there are budding kid inventors right here in Berkshire County waiting to make their mark on the world. Do you know one of them?