Research In Action

Research In Action

Bishop Curry
Honoring the Entrepreneurial Spirit of a Child

It isn’t often that you get a request for a 10-year-old child to attend a high-level scientific meeting. But that’s exactly what happened when I checked email a couple of months prior to the Center for Child Injury Prevention Studies’ (CChIPS) annual Advances in Child Injury Prevention (ACIP) conference.

The young son of a Toyota employee had come up with a design that he hoped might prevent hot car deaths among children in car seats, and the company wanted to honor his entrepreneurial spirit.

They decided to bring him to Michigan and give him a tour of Toyota’s Collaborative Safety Research Center, and they asked if he might attend a few of the scientific talks at ACIP. I’ll admit I had visions of a young, energetic boy racing up and down the aisle during the presentations, but we decided to give it a go.

I could not have been more surprised. Bishop Curry sat quietly and listened to all of the talks. Afterwards, in his freshly pressed shirt and neat blue pants, he showed his drawing to Eric Dahle, CChIPS’ Industry Advisory Board member from Evenflo, to get feedback and learn how ideas like his are developed, tested, and put into action.

It was a wonderful opportunity to provide a young person the chance to learn about real-world applications of great ideas and perhaps set him on a path toward a career in science, technology, engineering and math.

Later, I wondered what inspired a child so young to take on such a big idea. It had to have been partly due to having parents who recognize and foster sparks of light in their children, combined with a supportive community and an employer that encouraged innovation.

We went to the source and asked Bishop and his dad to talk to each other about the experience. What follows is their conversation about inspiration, determination, and the belief that a good idea combined with the right kind of support can change the world.

Below is a transcript of their conversation.

Mr. Curry (Dad): So Bishop, what inspired you to come up with this idea?

Bishop:  Well, I saw a few kids die, like Sherman and all that stuff, and I just thought of an idea. Honestly, I didn’t think it would take me this far, though. I just thought of a car seat, well it’s not going to be really looking like a car seat anymore, it’s just gonna, like, take the temperature of the car.

Mr. Curry: But how did you come up with the idea?

Bishop: I just imagined it, what would help with the baby. It just popped up.

Mr. Curry: So has this experience, like, going to Michigan, speaking with engineers and doctors, how has it changed you?

Bishop: It shows me what a job is like. It seems really boring.

Mr. Curry: Seems really boring? What about the test lab?

Bishop: Now, that was cool.

Mr. Curry: That was cool to see the test engineers and all, how they make cars there. Ok, so has this taught you anything about life or about inventions?

Bishop: How engineers, like, think for months before they test it.

Mr. Curry: Mmhmm. So a lot of the time and thought that goes into inventing. It takes a lot of just thinking and testing, right?

Bishop: Mmhmm.

Mr. Curry: Do they always get it right the first time?

Bishop: No.

Mr. Curry: So you have to continue to try even if you don’t get it right the first time, is that what you’re saying?

Bishop: Yes.

Mr. Curry: Ok, all right, all right. Well, I’m very proud of your invention. A lot of people are very excited. I think it’s going to save a lot of lives once we get it invented.

Bishop: What was your initial reaction when I told you I wanted to invent something like this? Were you surprised?

Mr. Curry: Actually, I wasn’t surprised. You come up with a lot of very interesting and great ideas. My initial reaction was, I just felt like I was extremely proud. I remember when you handed me the paper and I looked at it and I was like, “Wow, this is a great idea!”.

Bishop: How did you decide to encourage me to follow this dream?

Mr. Curry: Well, I think, you know, in the summers when I send you to your engineering camps I want to continue to develop that engineering spirit within you. But as far as this dream, I think, for me, I just wanted you to know that Daddy was doing everything he could to let as many people know about it as I could. Remember when I’d come home from work and you’d ask me, “Hey, did you find anybody that could build my invention?”

Bishop: Yeah I remember that…

Mr. Curry: Yeah and so I just want you to know that I feel like you are very special and you’ve gotten a lot of great ideas and one day I believe that you are going to change the world.

Bishop: What has this experience taught you?

Mr. Curry: I think for me, this experience has taught me that there are a lot of people who really care about changing lives and saving lives and there are a lot of people who believe in young minds and so this experience has taught me that there is really a network out there that is behind young minds like you, because you are the future. And so it’s up to my generation to help pave a road for your great ideas to change the world. So thanks for doing this interview. Do you have any final words that you want to say?

Bishop: No, not really.

Mr. Curry: All right. Well let’s get ready for school. Give me five!