Kid Inventors Day (January 17th) is a celebration of the birthday of one of the world’s greatest kid inventors – Benjamin Franklin, who, at the age of 11, invented the world’s first swim flippers! On this day, we continue to celebrate kids’ creative thinking and the practical ideas they can invent to solve everyday problems. Continue reading as we share incredible stories of five inspiring young people who have done extraordinary things to change the world.
1. Joshua LOWE
It’s an incredible achievement to say that something that started out as a Saturday afternoon project is now being used in schools in more than 120 countries around the world, but that’s exactly how Edublocks started out. What’s even more incredible is that the creator of Edublocks, 15 year old student Joshua Lowe, was just 12 years old when he started developing it. Now 3 years on Joshua travels around the globe delivering teacher training, running workshops and giving talks about his software.
Edublocks is being used globally by students and teachers alike and includes support for teaching Python using the micro:bit, CircuitPython and Raspberry Pi to people of all ages. Joshua came up with the idea after seeing fellow students easily getting bored and confused by the difficulty of text-based programming.
2. Kenneth Shinozuka
Kenneth Shinozuka knows Alzheimer’s disease all too well. He remembers being 4 years old, walking in a park in Japan with his grandfather, when his grandfather suddenly got lost. It was then that his family learned that his grandfather has Alzheimer’s. Kenneth needed a way know when his grandfather wandered out of his bed in the middle of the night. So at age 15, Kenneth invented a sock with a pressure sensor that, when activated by a step, would send a message to the smartphone of his grandfather’s caretakers. Not only was Kenneth successful in taking care of his grandfather, but his invention won first prize and the $50,000 (USD) Scientific American Science in Action Award.
Kenneth is now attending Harvard, and was a judge in the Invent For Good challenge. You can learn more in Kenneth’s TED Talk from 2014.
3. Gitanjali Rao
Gitanjali Rao, 14, is already a seasoned inventor. In 2017, she won the 3M Young Scientist Challenge for a device called Tethys that uses carbon nanotube sensors to detect lead in drinking water. A year later, she won a prize in the TCS Ignite Innovation Student Challenge for inventing Epione, a tool that diagnoses early-stage prescription opioid addiction. “So many teens, especially my age, were starting to get addicted,” she says. Epione works by testing blood for increased protein production in a specific gene. Gitanjali’s latest brainchild is Kindly, an app that spots and prevents cyberbullying messages. Beta testing began last year.
4. Suman Mulumudi
High school student Suman Mulumudi created Steth IO, a device which turns a smartphone into a stethoscope. To make this kid invention, he designed an iPhone case, using a MakerBot Replicator 2 3-D printer. It uses a diaphragm to collect sounds, send them to a microphone, and allows the phone to act as a stethoscope. Heart conditions can be monitored with the Steth IO, and an application on the phone allows patients to send recordings directly to their doctor.
5. Celestine Wenardy
Celestine, an intrepid student from Indonesia, created an affordable way to fight the diabetes emergency in her community. According to the World Health Organization, the number of diabetes cases in Indonesia has been increasing. The disease now accounts for 6% of all Indonesian deaths. In her Google Science Fair proposal, Celestine cited this crisis as one of the two major inspirations for her research. Her second motivator was local glucometers. Glucometers are home measurement systems that help people test the levels of glucose (sugar) in their blood. They’re essential for diabetics as they help to manage the condition and keep people safe.
In Indonesia, Celestine found that the glucometers available at local health facilities are invasive, uncomfortable, and too expensive. They require blood draws, and can cost a whopping $1000, out of reach for many Indonesians. Reliable non-invasive glucometers are more expensive, and even less accessible. As a result, experts estimate that over half of Indonesian diabetes cases go untreated.
So, she took on the mammoth task of creating a non-invasive glucose monitor that is affordable and accurate. After looking at previous trials and studies, she ran tests of her own and settled on a creative design that involved two advanced principles.
About Fire Tech
Fire Tech’s mission is to give young people the tools and inspiration to become the tech creators, makers, and leaders of the future. We have delivered over 80,000 learning experiences to young people across the world. Courses include Python & Java coding, AI, game design, and digital media production. Each workshop is designed to teach young people future skills such as design thinking, collaboration, and problem-solving. All of our programmes are taught by tech-savvy teachers from some of the UK’s leading universities.