Do you know what happens when you let kids think outside the box? When you teach them to come up with their own solutions to problems rather than force them to apply cookie-cutter solutions to their questions?

You get kids like Peyton Robertson, the 12-year-old scientist who now has three patents pending. His most recent invention earned him the title of "America's 2013 Top Young Scientist" and helped him win the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge.

So what was the invention that earned Peyton so much attention? He redesigned the traditional sandbag used during floods so that it is lighter, more efficient, and best of all — reusable. And his idea is so simple — it's amazing to me that it took so long for someone to think of it. Watch as Peyton describes how it works:

Of course, this invention is amazing. And it has the power to transform how communities will respond in the event of a flooding emergency. But I was equally blown away by Peyton's other patent-pending inventions because they show how this kid has been allowed and encouraged to think about the world around him and come up with solutions when he sees a problem — even if it involves helping his twin 7-year-old sisters.

He lays out all of the details of these inventions — and even recruits Ellen as a business partner — in this video:

Related posts on MNN:

The opinions expressed by MNN Bloggers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of MNN.com. While we have reviewed their content to make sure it complies with our Terms and Conditions, MNN is not responsible for the accuracy of any of their information.