By Chere Di Boscio
It’s not enough for some kids to sit back and wait for adults to make the world a better place. We’ve already featured the efforts of eco-fashion designer and environmental advocate Maya Shea Penn, who has made a name for herself at the age of 13, and now another teen, Kelvin Doe, 16, is making huge strides in improving the planet.
With almost no training and very few resources, this vastly intelligent, creative youth has been using electronic parts he finds in the trash in his town in Sierra Leone to build generators, batteries, and radios since he was only 11.
The generators he makes provide his family with electricity, and he uses a radio and antenna he built to broadcast his own radio station, which he hopes will send a message to the youth of Sierra Leone to discuss and debate the issues that most affect them. Known as DJ Focus on the radio, Kelvin’s inventions made him a finalist in the NGO Global Minimum’s 2012 Innovate Salone Challenge., where he then attracted the attention of MIT Media Lab graduate David Sengeh, who then invited Kelvin to the 2012 World Maker Faire in New York. After that, Kelvin participated in the Visiting Practitioners Program, which allowed him to learn from engineers at MIT and present his work to students.
This May, he signed a $100,000 contract with Canadian firm Sierra WiFi to research, design and test his own solar panel technology, which will then be installed at 400 strategic spots around Sierra Leone. Not only will Kelvin lead the project himself, but Sierra WiFi is building his own research lab, where he can further his skills of invention.
The President of Sierra Leone, Ernest Bai Koroma, was so impressed with Kelvin’s achievements, he gave him the Presidential Gold Award for his inventions. Kelvin’s next project will be constructing a windmill to bring his town energy. For this teen prodigy, it should be a piece of cake.
To see a video of Kelvin’s story, click here.