Last year I was amazed by a couple of stories that had hit the media about kids who had made amazing scientific discoveries. Jack Andraka, who was 15 at the time, had discovered an inexpensive and accurate test for pancreatic, ovarian, and lung cancers. Check out his seven minute video from the TED Talent Search. Another innovation teen Catherine Wong, who was 17 at the time, had created a prototype of a portable electrocardiogram (EKG) that can connect to a cell phone via Bluetooth and transmit the results over a cellular network. As both told their stories it was remarkable how they were undaunted by the trial and error process. They were not deterred by failure or setbacks and they simply kept trying. But where do kids learn not to fear failure and develop the courage to pick themselves up and keep moving forward?
A couple of days ago I heard about another amazing example of a “child” showing us their own power of creativity to drive innovation and I thought about a recent experience playing a game with my son . A child’s ability to create a hypothesis, test, and verify process is no less than an adults and it may be improved since they are not bridled by the fear of failure. This year we have seen a couple of the most astonishing medical inventions come from work of teenagers! How do we continue to create an environment where they are able to discover, explore, and create? If their current pace of innovation continues maybe we will need to start referring to them as the MD-Generation?
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