Meet serial inventor siblings Danny and Ella Mefford from Ohio. Over the past year Danny has developed three inventions, including the Quick Click, a device to help parents/guardians to install a car seat faster and easier. Ella has developed two inventions of her own including her Tree-less Paper Towels which uses magnets to allow cloth towels to act in the same way as the paper ones. Just rip it off – then roll them back up after you’ve washed them!
Jim Bruner at The Henry Ford recently interviewed Ella and Danny as part of Invention Convention Worldwide’s ongoing series, Kid Inventor Friday.
During his inventing process, Danny likes to utilize upcycled items, “What I do, is I go around my house, or the park, and I constantly look at things to see what they can be, not what they are.”
One of his inventions, Zeus: The Beacon of Hope, utilizes two water bottles he found around the house. Danny was inspired to create Zeus after visiting a museum that documented the destruction from Hurricane Katrina. His device holds a built-in FM radio, built-in light source and a tracking device that will alert first responders of your location if you get stuck during a hurricane or any other natural disaster. Danny also likes to challenge himself while inventing. While working on Zeus, he learned how to solder from YouTube videos and his dad.
“I will always, in life, push myself to do better,” explains Danny. “So, I think I’ll just keep pushing myself, keep inventing, and hopefully one day I’ll change someone’s life with one of my inventions, because really that’s the goal. You think of a problem that is affecting you or another person in hopes that you can make their life easier and one day I want to be able to make someone’s’ life easier, or possibly save someone’s life.”
Not only do these siblings provide emotional support to each other throughout the difficulties and struggles of inventing, but their inventions show their unending empathy for the world around them.
As someone who deals with severe peanut and tree nut allergies, Ella understands the risk of being caught somewhere without her Epi-Pen. This prompted her to invent the Everywhere Epi-Pen. This insulated Bluetooth enabled smart bag not only helps people crowdsource Epi-Pens in a pinch but helps the user find the nearest hospital. This will all be done through an app the Ella plans on building herself.
“I model my empathy after seeing other people struggle, because when I see other people struggle it’s my natural instinct to go and help them,” explains Ella. “I just know there are ways that I can help them and I want to help them the best I can.”
The young inventor had some advice for teachers and parents. “The kids are the future,” states Ell. “And if you don’t indulge in these activities that widen their thinking abilities or challenge their thinking processes, it won’t help out future and it won’t help yours either. So, I think definitely, definitely, definitely put yourself into the invention convention process. It is definitely worth it. It may be time consuming at first and it is a long process, but it is worth the time.”
The siblings had some final words to other young inventors out there. “Instead of failure I like to use the term unscheduled learning opportunities,” explains Danny. “After each failure you have, you can learn something from it.” Ella encourages other young inventors to ignore the haters, “Rise above and believe in yourself.”