In February 2015, as then-15-year-old inventor Alexis Lewis was preparing to give her second TEDx talk, she often heard people refer to her as a genius or be simply stunned by her youth. This frustrated her deeply.
“What is wrong with you guys?” she thought, noting that humans have been inventing since our first days on Earth. “When they had a problem, they solved it. That’s what invention is: problem-solving with a physical solution.” Why was her success such a surprise to people?
It's this assumption — that inventing is something only geniuses can do or that it requires decades of life and learning to attempt — that Lewis, now 18, believes is cheating society of much-needed ideas and innovation. “Every person is born with the ability to solve real-world problems,” she says. “Anyone can invent. They just need to be told that they can.”
Now, Lewis is on a quest to take inventing mainstream — to make it something that everyone does, all over the globe, whenever necessary. And she just might be on the verge of pulling that off. But the effort has seen a few twists and turns along the way.