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Krysta Morlan, Waterbike Inventor

Krysta Morlan workng on her waterbike

Krysta Morlan working on her waterbike

More Photography:

Morlan's fist invention, the cast cooler
Morlan's fist invention, the cast cooler

Morlan riding her waterbike in the pool
Morlan riding her waterbike in the pool

Morlan visiting Disneyland
Morlan visiting Disneyland

Waterbike Inventor

“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”

Next: Lydia O’Leary, Covermark® Cosmetics Inventor ›

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