Chinese boy, 11, takes DIY go-kart for a spin after busy school holiday

While his friends were taking extra classes over the long summer break, budding inventor read up online and got to work

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 16 August, 2018, 3:53pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 16 August, 2018, 3:53pm

While his classmates have been taking extra lessons over the long summer holiday, an 11-year-old boy in eastern China has been busy with his own project – building a go-kart – and he’s caught the attention of local media.

After spending all of July assembling his DIY vehicle, it was time for Xiao Zijin to put on his helmet, gloves and sunglasses and finally take it for a spin this week in a park in Quzhou, Zhejiang province.

That’s according to a Zhejiang News report on Tuesday, which said the budding inventor researched the whole process online, spending 620 yuan (US$90) on wires and other parts, and using some components from an old electric bike.

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But he said he had problems getting the steering right, and he nearly gave up on the project because of it. “I spent about four hours working on it every day. The rest of the time I was reading up online, trying to research and problem solve,” Zijin told the newspaper. “I watched the videos over and over again and eventually I solved it.”

He did have some motivation to finish the project – his parents, wanting to encourage him, said he could only do it if he didn’t just give up halfway.

“His school results last semester were quite satisfactory, so we felt this wouldn’t affect his studies,” Zijin’s mother, Xu Yingmi, was quoted as saying.

Although she did have to put up with a bit of mess. “[The whole living room] was taken over, there was nowhere even to stand,” Xu said. “I didn’t have any friends round while he was working on his go-kart because it was so messy.”

Zijin said he had come up with the idea after watching videos online of children his age making their own go-karts.

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His mother said Zijin had been building things since he was young and loved reading science books.

“He even put our shoe rack together when we first moved here,” she said.

His “watering can for lazy people” – a micro water pump attached to a flowerpot that releases water at the touch of a button – also gets a lot of use at home.

Zijin’s parents are proud of his enthusiasm for building and inventing things – he won a silver medal at an international school robotics competition this year in Wuhan, Hubei province – but confess they are not sure where he gets it from.

Xu said she and her husband, a school administrative officer and a civil servant, “don’t have this ‘invention gene’”.

But that’s not going to stop Zijin. “I hope one day I’ll be a great inventor like [Thomas] Edison,” he said. “Even if I can’t become an inventor for my job, I hope it’s my lifetime hobby.”