Lydia Denton, Inventor
Lydia Denton is only 12, but is already an award-winning inventor, placing in 4 National competitions in 2019. She won the Grand Prize in the Citgo Discovery Fueling Education competition for her prototype Beat the Heat Car Seat to prevent deaths in hot cars, and she was a State Merit Winner for the 3M Young Scientist Challenge for her Red-Head Helmet to prevent concussions. A paper she wrote as part of a team won an Honorable Mention in the Exploravision Competition from the National Science Teaching Association. Finally, in 2019, her team was a Finalist in the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow competition for their BREATHE: Our Newest Invention device that detects hypoxic episodes, and an interesting application in diseases like COVID-19 that may impact the body's ability to get oxygen. Along with her sister and help from a neighbor, Lydia also invented the GLOVE Press to help with the shortage of PPE caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.
How I got started
I began inventing in 2nd grade as a part of the Exploravision competition. This competition doesn't require you to build a physical prototype, just dream big, explain well and do a detailed drawing. My friends and I invented a facial recognition cabinet to keep medications and firearms safe in the home.
We went on the following year to create a TumorBug for the same competition that detected apoptosis in cancer tumors (cell death) so doctors could determine how effective treatment was.
After 5th grade I decided that I was ready to move on to physical prototypes. I began learning about coding and circuits. My neighbor Mark is a retired aerospace engineer. He has helped me learn about circuits. It is so important that if you are creating something to plug into the wall that you get a mentor to teach you how to be safe! I didn't want to get zapped! He helped us figure out how to use toaster wire to make our glove press. I learned pretty early on that there is a lot I don't know! I watched a lot of YouTube tutorials and got my mom to join in Help Boards for Arduino programmers. I got my older brother to help me figure out the coding. My sister is very brave and has steady hands so she helps me build the circuits. I had to learn how to read a circuit diagram and trouble shoot the circuits. At first it seemed like I didn't know anything and I had to look up every single step. After a while though, I got very comfortable with reading circuits, building circuits and understanding how things worked and it became easier to invent new things.
I love to learn new things and new skills. It is like solving a puzzle no one has ever solved before. You have to be very willing to fail and try again and fail and try again!
Advice for Innovators
Do it! You probably have a million ideas to make the world a better place! Pick one and do it. Then once that is done, do another one! You've got to act on those good ideas and they will get better and better and your skills will grow. Pretty soon you'll see a world filled with problems you can help make better.
My mom always said that if you see a problem you can choose to do something about it. Maybe it is change your attitude, maybe it is offer a helping hand to someone in need but maybe the solution is an invention. Open your eyes to the world around you and it is full of things that you could improve and make better.
My other advice is stick with it and ask for help! The world is filled with people who are happy to share what they've learned and their expertise. You need to listen and learn from them. The more you know and learn, the easier inventing will become. You have to stick with it too--remember your "why" behind inventing.
For me, the carseat meant possibly saving a life. On the 99th time of trying to code it, when I was ready to give up and quit, my younger sister brought me a snack and reminded me why I was inventing it. On that 100th time, the circuit worked. I am glad I didn't give up!