“Growing up with cerebral palsy made me a stronger person and very determined to succeed. Inventing has given me confidence and a way to help myself as well as others.”
While still in high school, Krysta Morlan invented the Waterbike—a semi-submersible, fin-propelled vehicle powered by the rider’s legs.
“I wore casts on and off for about a year [after major leg surgery in 1997]. I had to do a lot of physical therapy to build the strength up in my legs, as well as work on my balance. During the summer I would do exercises while I was in the pool. (Water exercise is good for you and isn’t as hard on the muscles.) There was only one problem: it meant I had to work instead of play.”
Morlan’s ninth-grade invention, a “cast cooler,” helped her win the Lemelson-MIT High School Apprenticeship Award in 1999. She was paired with mentor Colin Twitchell, who specializes in sports and recreational items and therapeutic equipment. As they talked, an idea of a bike for the pool gradually took shape.
“I wanted [to make a waterbike] because of my boring exercises, my love of the pool, and the fact that I hadn’t ridden a bike since my surgery.”
“Everyone has ideas. It’s just a matter of having a chance to act on them. It would help if there were more hands-on activities in school. This would help kids realize that anyone can make something with their hands. I think it really helps us learn as well.”
“When my thinking gets blocked, I walk away for a while. When I return, my head is usually cleared, and I can get back to work. Sometimes I listen to music while I work. It seems to help me relax.”
“[Edison said] inventing is 99 percent perspiration and one percent inspiration. The most important ingredients are enthusiasm and interest—and Krysta has plenty of both!”—Colin Twitchell, Morlan’s “invention mentor”