Let’s face it: The popular images of teens aren’t necessarily flattering. Oftentimes characterized as easily distracted, whether by other teens or social media, narcissistic, and entitled, to be a teen is to constantly be waging an uphill battle against what society expects you to do and be and whatever your own blooming interests are, with the emphasis on the former almost always overshadowing the latter. But being a teenager is something literally every person has to go through, and lost within the conversations of adults looking down at teen culture are the real achievements and innovations that come about as a result of teens.
Enter Alexis Lewis, a 15-year-old inventor who wants to change the conversation around teen creators and thinkers. Lewis already has one patent under her belt, for a wheeled travois (Native American sled), inspired by and designed for Somali refugees to help them transport their children, and has another one, for a football-shaped container filled with protective gear that rescue workers can throw into burning buildings, on its way.
With a grandfather who used to work as a rocket scientist in the Apollo programs, Lewis is passionate about creating and applying solutions to widespread problems. In a profile for Smithsonian Mag, she argues for not just inventing in general, but in particular inventing done by kids, saying:
Lewis isn’t just committed to creating new inventions — she’s also committed to passing on the inventing bug to other kids, vocally advocating for “Inventing 101” classes for schools. In a video for Smithsonian, we can see her both utilizing 3-D printing technology and teaching 3-D modeling to grade schoolers. Though she grew up under the shadow of a great inventor, for Lewis, “[Inventing 101] would show [students] kids who have already invented. If people aren’t told when they’re young that they can invent, it’s going to be much harder to convince them that they can.”
As she puts it, “People think that the inventors of the world are the crazy mad scientists and white lab coats working long hours developing crazy new technologies. But that’s not the case. It’s not something reserved for Edison, Graham Bell, all the greats. Inventors are basically anybody and everybody who’s ever tried to solve a problem.” We applaud Lewis’s work, and can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.