Children

Age no bar!

Anne Frank, Iqbal Masih, Greta Thunberg — children have the ability to leave a lasting impact on the world with their voices and determination. This Children’s Day, we shine the light on a few youngsters from around the world who have set records, scaled peaks, and changed the world with their ideas.

William Kamkwamba

William Kamkwamba, young inventor

William Kamkwamba, young inventor   | Photo Credit: The American Library Association

William had to drop out of school because of his family’s poverty. But, to continue his education, he would frequent the local school library in his hometown Wimbe in Malawi, and tinker with recycled material to build things. When he was 14, William built a windmill using blue gum trees, bicycle parts, and materials collected in a local scrapyard. This produced enough electricity to power four lights and two radios in his family home. William’s invention gained international fame and attention, owing to which he could continue his education. He now works as a social entrepreneur working with the Moving Windmills Project that builds low-cost energy solutions for communities. His book, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind was adapted into a film and he is also the subject of the documentary film, William and the Windmill.

Kokona Hiraki

Age no bar!

This 12-year-old skateboarding prodigy became the youngest Olympic medalist in 85 years, when she won silver in the women’s park event at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. With this, she also set a record as Japan’s youngest Olympic medallist of all time. Interestingly, the bronze was won by 13-year-old Sky Brown of Britain who became the youngest person to win a medal for Britain at the Olympics. Kokona was also the youngest stakeholder to win a medal at the 2018 X Games in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the U.S., when she was just 10 years and 11 months. She started skateboarding when she was just five, thanks to her mother who is a big fan of the sport.

Ann Makosinski

Ann had been tinkering with circuits and electronic components as a child. She was 15 when she decided to invent a light source that wouldn’t require batteries and ended up creating the Hollow Flashlight that runs solely off the heat of the human hand for the Google Science Fair in 2013. The elimination of the need for single-use batteries that get dumped in landfills was her solution to reducing waste and also providing light to communities that cannot afford electricity. The flashlight was recognised with a Gold Medal and the Energy Award at the Canada-Wide Science Fair, the Google Science Fair Award, and received four awards at the Intel Science and Engineering Fair. She was named one of Times Magazine’s 30 Under 30 World Changers for her many inventions.

Boyan Slat

Age no bar!

During a fishing trip in Greece, 16-year-old Boyan discovered water polluted with plastic waste. He then worked on a high school project investigating plastic pollution in oceans and the challenges of cleaning it. He came up with the idea of building a system that would use the ocean currents to advantage. Boyan founded The Ocean Cleanup, a non-profit organisation in 2013, when he was 18.. It has developed systems (machines) that are deployed in rivers across the world to collect plastic waste. In 2015, he became the youngest-ever recipient of the UN’s highest environmental accolade — Champion of the Earth. He was awarded the maritime industry’s Young Entrepreneur Award in 2015 by HM King Harald of Norway.

Gitanjali Rao

Age no bar!

She gained global recognition when, at the age of 15, she was featured on the cover of TIME magazine as its First-Ever 2020 Kid of the Year. The inventor, author, scientist and engineer was influenced by a science kit given to her as a four year old. At the age of 11, motivated by the Flint, Michigan, water crisis, she developed an affordable device called Tethys that could detect lead content in water more accurately. For this, she won the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge and also the title of “America’s Top Young Scientist.” She was awarded the United States Environmental Protection Agency President’s Environmental Youth Award.

Gitanjali has also developed an Artificial Intelligence- based app called Kindly that can detect cyberbullying at an early stage.

India’s youngest:

Arjun Vajpai

In 2010, Arjun scaled Mount Everest becoming the youngest Indian and the third youngest in the world to do. He was 16 years, 11 months and 18 days old. By 2018, he also became the youngest person in the world to scale six peaks over 8,000 metres when he summited Kangchenjunga. In 2015, he scaled an unexplored peak in Spiti valley in Himachal and named it ‘Mount Kalam’ in memory of the late President of India A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.

Chitresh Tatha

Chitresh Tatha’s claim to fame is that, at the age of 12, he was the youngest player to represent his country in the 2014 Asian Games. The professional sailor started his sailing journey when he was nine years old, inspired by his sister. He sails in the Optimist Dinghy category.

Aswatha Biju

This Chennai girl is considered to be among India’s youngest palaeontologists. She has a collection of over 100 fossil specimens, including vertebrates, invertebrates, chordates and flora. The 13-year-old conducts workshops and seminars in schools and colleges to raise awareness about palaeontology and continues to hunt for fossils and study them.

Nihal Raj

Popularly known as Little Chef Kicha, six-year-old Nihal Raj started a YouTube channel known as KichaTube where he would post cooking videos. His videos became so popular that, in 2016, Facebook gained non-exclusive rights to his signature ‘Mickey Mouse mango ice cream’ video and paid him $2,000. Considered the World’s Youngest Chef, the 11-year-old won the Global Child Prodigy Award in January 2020.

Abhijita Gupta

The seven-year-old earned the title of the world's youngest writer, recognised by the International Book of Records. She is the author of three books To Begin With the Little Things, Happiness All Around and her latest, We Will Surely Sustain, a book about her experience of living through the pandemic and the lockdown.


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Printable version | Jan 27, 2022 7:11:01 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/children/age-no-bar/article37376809.ece

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