This podcast is a deep-dive into one incredible invention, entrepreneurial pursuit, or discovery per episode and the young person behind it.
Did you know that the trampoline was invented by a 16-year-old? That popsicles, snowmobiles, and even the Braille language were also invented by young people? In this podcast we’re talking to innovative kids, tweens, and teens who run their own businesses, made a new discovery, or invented something new using science. Our host Danni Washington, a science communicator who is dedicated to inspiring and educating youth about all things science, is just as excited to interview these innovators and be inspired by them as the interviewees.
The summer before her freshman year of high school, Kyla Guru discovered a unique passion for cybersecurity at the NSA GenCyber Camp. It was there she discovered that 90% of cyberattacks were due to human error. To combat this problem, Kyla founded Bits N’ Bytes Cybersecurity Education (https://www.bitsnbytes.us.com/) whose mission is educating and equipping people with the cybersecurity skills they need for the future. In addition to giving speeches and holding workshops, Bits N’ Bytes also designs downloadable lessons for teachers, so they can spread the word about cybersecurity to their own students.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit and schools closed, high school junior Zachary Siegel found himself with a lot more time on his hands. He used that free time to explore his passions (like computer programming), but quickly realized this was also an opportunity to share his passions with others. So he founded The Youth Passion Project (https://www.youthpassionproject.org/). It’s a platform for high school students to teach classes to young learners about the things they are most passionate about. The classes are completely free and cover a huge variety of topics from video game design to philosophy to Bollywood dance. Since its founding in March of 2020, Zach’s organization has grown exponentially, with thousands of students enrolled and chapters across the US, Canada, and South Korea!
Hannah & Charlie Lucas
When Hannah Lucas was 15 years old, she developed POTS, a medical condition that caused her to faint without warning. The anxiety around her condition combined with bullying and harassment from her classmates led Hannah to fall into a deep depression, culminating in an attempt to end her own life. During this incredibly low moment in her life, Hannah had an idea: What if there was a way to immediately alert the people around her that she was not ok? Aided by her tech-savvy brother, Charlie, Hannah’s idea came to life. The result is the notOK App™, a digital panic button which has now helped tens of thousands of others struggling with mental illness.
While studying abroad in Japan, 16-year-old Luna Abadia saw the effects of climate change first-hand. Typhoons were getting stronger, snow becoming rarer, and traditional crops were no longer able to grow. This inspired Luna to act. She entered a speech competition and wrote about the importance of combating climate change. Her speech got a lot of attention and Luna became a national finalist. Realizing the power her voice could have, when Luna returned home to Oregon, she founded the Effective Climate Action Project (https://www.effectiveclimateaction.org/) or ECAP for short - a youth-led organization working to increase awareness of effective solutions to climate change.
When he was 11 years old, a volunteer trip to a center feeding the homeless and hungry in San Francisco opened Kiran Sridhar’s eyes to the devastating effects of hunger and food insecurity. After a lot of research and even more hard work, Kiran’s drive to eradicate hunger led to the creation of his online platform, Waste No Food (http://wastenofood.org/). It's a simple concept: farms, restaurants, cafeterias, hotels, and grocery stores post excess food on the site. Aid groups and charities feeding the hungry can see what’s available locally, pick it up, and feed their clients. Kiran, now in college, has seen his platform spread across the country from California to Illinois to Florida, and has served over 6,000,000 meals and counting.
When 16-year-old Neil Suri went on a hiking trip to California, he witnessed firsthand the devastation caused by forest fires. The image of the charred mountainside inspired him to look deeper into wildfires - how they start, and how they burn out of control. Through his research, Neil discovered the way we detect forest fires hasn’t changed all that much over the years. And that traditional methods are expensive and out of date. So Neil got to work and invented a completely new, affordable way to detect forest fires - before they get out of control. It’s called FireWatch and it’s amazing.