Very often, it’s the younger generation that inspires change and scientific discovery and this year has seen a bumper crop of incredible kids changing the world. Here is a look back at some of the inspirational teens and their inventions that are sure to get your kids fired up. You can encourage innovation in your teens by creating a safe workshop or lab space. Many maker’s fairs and tool libraries offer workshops for budding inventors or buy holiday gifts that require assembly to pique interest.
After having lost an uncle to cancer, Jack Andraka was inspired to do something about this pervasive disease. He sent proposals to over 200 universities asking for help with his lab studies, but his proposal was rejected by everyone except Dr. Anirban Maitra of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, who refers to Jack as “the Edison for our times.”
What Jack managed to do was develop a quick, easy test that detects the presence of a protein in the early stages of pancreatic, ovarian and lung cancer. He is working on creating an over-the-counter test that can be administered at home and hopes that early detection will help to save lives. He is the recipient of the 2012 Gordon E. Moore Award, the grand prize of the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.
“I’m hoping to give someone a functional prosthetic arm for under $1,000,” says Easton LaChappelle about the prosthetic device he created in his bedroom using a 3D printer. Easton built his very first robotic hand out of Lego, string and servo motors. Inspired by the success of this project, he taught himself modelling software and got access to a 3D printer. He created all the parts for his prosthetic arm in his bedroom.
Easton is working to improve his prosthetic arm and create a working model that is affordable and accessible to more amputees. He is also studying human anatomy to get a better idea of how the human body works. He has met President Obama who enjoyed shaking the prostatic arm at the White House Science Fair.
Hate the idea of giant garbage piles of plastic in the ocean? So does Boyan Slat! Boyan has invented a way to clean up the world’s oceans and make money at the same time. Boyan created a large vessel with boom arms which is powered by the ocean under solar and wave power. The garbage processing station will collect and recycle plastic onsite. Boyan hopes that his Ocean Cleanup will be able to process 7, 250,000 in just five years. The Ocean Cleanup is about half way through a feasibility study which shows promising initial findings.