2021 Writing Contest Featured Featured on Facebook Level C Submissions

Striving for Peak Innovation

2021 Writing Contest Honorable Mention, Level C

Striving for Peak Innovation by Luke S.

Since I was a young boy, I have always been one to imagine fantastical devices. As a child I drew page after page of crazy machines. Then I was given LEGOs, and after spending just minutes building sets according to directions, I would often disassemble them, combine pieces from different sets, and create my own designs. Later, a friend of mine introduced me to Minecraft. I became completely hooked. Minecraft was like LEGOs but without limits due to its virtual nature. After that a local community organization offered 3D printing and aquatic robot building classes. The combination of computer-based design and hands-on building in these endeavors captured my imagination and ignited a dream within me. I decided that as an adult I would not work for others. Rather, I would initiate change in the world through running my own innovation company. Few entrepreneurs succeed overnight though; thus, I am already navigating the way towards my future by earning money, learning skills, and researching for inspiration. 

Seeking income has long been a pursuit of mine. When I was four or five years old, I drew on recycled toilet paper rolls and put them out in the middle of our cul-de-sac on a crate with a sign that read “Telescopes for Sale.” Feeling pity for the fact that my handmade product was not selling, my father secretly traded the “telescopes” for some cash. Elated by this apparent success, I persuaded my younger sister to join me in my second business venture: selling orange juice. We squeezed a few oranges into a single glass and walked up and down our short street screaming in our high-pitched children’s voices, “Ooor-aaange juice for sa-a-ale!” Sadly, our lone product did not sell. After talking to my parents about it, I realized that I needed a better way to find customers; therefore, I decided to take advantage of a potential client base at my parent’s upcoming yard sale. Eagerly I set up a table to sell pre-made drawings and create custom ones by request. This one-day venture proved successful, and soon I began to seek ways to obtain a steadier influx of cash. 

I set myself a goal to earn as much money as I could as easily as I could. Thus, when my father randomly brought some worms home from work one day, I recognized an opportunity. While my siblings got excited about pet worms, I envisioned a business. I could enlist the help of my siblings to breed the worms and ask my mother to advertise our business on Facebook. To begin the business, my siblings and I deliberately counted every single one of the worms and advertised half of them for sale. A local woman quickly and kindly offered to purchase them, and my siblings and I split what appeared to us to be a huge pile of cash in hand. Sadly, our remaining worms died before we could make more profit because we were inexperienced worm breeders. Subsequently, I decided I would be better off selling a product I could easily make to an already existing market. Thus with my siblings and a bit of investment in time, money, and help from my mother, I made prayer beads and prayer bookmarks to sell at a church fair. Recalling my success at my parent’s yard sale, I also offered on-spot, by-request drawings at the fair. The sale was a success, and my siblings and I continued to sell our products using advertisements on my mother’s Facebook page for some time. I also made and sold play weapons made with PVC pipe, foam, and duct tape at a kids’ entrepreneur fair. Finally, when I was old enough, I decided to sell services instead of products by working on a farm, cleaning yards, and being a mother’s helper. This choice currently allows me to generate steady income without investing extra time and money into continually creating and marketing products. 

Without the need to make and advertise products, I have been able to focus more time on learning and skill building. Of course, in order to become an innovator, I need to possess a broad knowledge of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) skills. Just this year, I began my science studies in earnest, deciding to take AP biology, which I will follow with AP chemistry and AP physics so as to gain vital knowledge for my future. Since I want my eventual company to solve problems through innovation, my understanding of science must also be paired with a working knowledge of technology and engineering. Thus, in consideration of my love of games and gaming, I decided to take Javascript Game Design as my first programming course. Besides this official course, I have also spent hours learning to model my favorite strategy games, Civilization and Crusader Kings. In addition, I have taken classes on 3D printing and computer-aided design (CAD), which I excelled in enough to help teach. I intend to continue to expand my 3D printing and CAD skills with a newly gained, free student Autodesk account, which offers me access to software products and services for architecture, engineering, construction, manufacturing, and more. At the root of all of these skills, a basic understanding of mathematics is necessary. Hence, I have been tackling algebra and geometry, gaining high marks in both with the intention of mastering all the way through calculus. I have set a personal goal to finish all of these pursuits and the rest of my high school credits early in order to leave myself a year or two to focus on my actual business plan while I am still living under my parents’ roof. 

Although I must focus most of my current time and energy on lessons and work, I never stop thinking about ideas for my future. I believe skills and knowledge are useful tools, but without a purpose they lay dust covered in the garage of the mind. Thus, I regularly research for inspiration and search the world around me for problems that I might solve. About three years ago when I was browsing for science-based videos, I chanced upon the YouTube channel Kurzgesagt, which explores theoretical ideas about the future and teaches intriguing scientific facts. Since then, I have continued to feed my imagination through watching their videos. However, there is more to innovation than theory and, when I found a YouTube channel called Hacksmith Industries, I became enthralled. The Hacksmith posts weekly videos in which he takes a fictional technology and makes it real. Watching his team working on these fanciful projects incited my imagination and combined with the theory and ideas of the Kurzgesagt videos, feeds the passion for innovation in my mind. Daily I observe problems and desire to find solutions. Constantly, my brain is noticing problems, coming up with outlandish ideas to solve them, and debating how to make my fantastical thoughts into practical solutions. 

I may not be ready to enact all of my plans yet, but every day I slowly creep closer to achieving my goal of creating an innovation company. Seeking inspiration through theoretical and practical videos, building skills and knowledge through traditional lessons and hands-on learning, and continuing efforts towards earning money all draw me closer toward my objectives. Obviously, it will be challenging to reach my ultimate objective of starting and running a successful innovation company. However, as I work toward doing so now while I am young, I am confident it will be possible. My varying paths of inspiration, learning, and income will come together in a peak of success.