Some of the most innovative designs these days are coming from the minds of teenagers, a fact that shows a lot of promise for the next generation of engineers.
Even before the kids on this list have left high school, they’re showing keen minds for crafting inventions that display, not only ingenuity in design, but also humanitarian and environmentally friendly aspects.
Click on the photo below to see 10 of the brightest young inventors around.
Ann Makosinski, 16, of Victoria, British Columbia, made headlines last year with the invention of an energy-harvesting flashlight that can run solely on heat generated by the human hand. She won the 15-year-old to 16-year-old prize in the 2013 Google Science Fair for her Hollow Flashlight, which uses the Seebeck effect to create a thermal energy generator for the flashlight. The Hollow Flashlight wasn’t Makosinski’s first invention -- she also developed a piezoelectric flashlight and a solar sandwich, and continues to develop new products she plans to patent and possibly commercialize. (Source: Google)
It is not only inspiring, but instructive to see how many of these bright kids come not only from outside the US, but even from third-world nations. US technology owes a lot to talented immigrants over the years, and I hope some of the recent trends in restricting US immigration don't impede progress for the whole of humanity.
Nancy, your wish is granted. There are a number of people and institutions working on apps to apply game technology to real-world problems. The most famous is probably Fold It, which allows the user to manipulate online strings of amino acids to figure out the 3D structure of important biological proteins which have up until now be unsolved by conventional means:
Elizabeth, while I agree with your statement about some teens being inspiring and innovative, i wish we could come up with some way to affect the teens that are living out technology with video game obsessions. They are spending so much time and energy on "building their stats" in what ultimately is a wasted endeavor. Maybe someone can invent a video game that can work towards solving real world problems, yet capture the attention of gamers so they are using their time in a productive way.
Those are really good thoughts about middle school class offerings, Ralphy Boy. That is a great age for capturing the imagination of youth. Where I grew up we had no electronics classes to speak of - I was the only girl in my shop class which was the closest to hands-on creativity that we had. I remember visiting the parents of a young engineer I used to date - they lived in another state - my then boyfriend at the time took me to his old middle school and we peeked through the windows of his old electronics class. I was amazed at the equipment they had for the kids (I saw at least a couple of o'scopes and function generators on tables and DMMs and a host of electronic parts in bins) - and it was his experience in that class that inspired him to become an engineer.
My daughter and I were just talking a week ago about the fact that many youngsters seem to have a 'what do you mean my phone can't do that?" attitude.
And that once that thought takes hold in the right kid... they just get busy and make an app for that function.
I noticed that the prosthetics were made with Arduino tech. Cheap and easy way (relatively cheap & easy) to do computer control of real world items. This should be a middle school standard offering, along with BeagleBoard and the other top programmable hobby boards. I'd say smart phone app developer should be part of that same class too.
Compiling this list made me realize that, despite many of the negative headlines about teenagers, there are so many inspiring kids out there doing things that deserve a lot more attention. I believe we'll be hearing a lot more in the future from the teens on this list and they all prove that the younger generation is aware of what the world needs more so than many realize.
I was especially impressed with Kelvin's story as well, Nancy. It just shows that even without access to formalized education, the brightest minds can still shine. I'm really happy there are programs so kids like Kelvin can get the opportunity they deserve.
Amazing snapshops of teens from around the world pursuing innovative solutions that inspire. Make sure and watch the video link provided for Kelvin Doe from Sierra Leone - a self-taught child prodigy whose heart for others is just as inspiring as his mind.
California State University, Chico was the first school in California to offer an ABET-accredited degree program in mechatronic engineering. Now its California Mechatronics Center works with industry on machinery, robotics, and surveillance vehicles.
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