This 15 year old taught himself engineering and managed to use scrap to build working generators, batteries and even an FM Radio Transmitter.
The video above shows the fascinating story of Kelvin Doe. He is a child from a very poor district of Sierra Leone’s capital city Freetown. The area is in such rough shape, with electricity so intermittent, that the lights will only come up once a week.
Yet this didn’t stop Kelvin’s insatiable curiosity to understand and build his own electronics.
As he tells his story, he recounts how he would salvage wires and parts from rubbish, breaking down the components to understand how they worked and then building them back together into whatever he wanted to try as a project. Often, his mother would come into the living room in the middle of the night and it would look like an electronics scrap yard.
I love inventing – Kelvin Doe
Among the various things he managed to build from scrap parts are a battery to power lights, a multi-channel audio mixer, a hand-powered generator and an FM Radio transmitter. He uses this audio equipment under his pseudonym “DJ Focus”, playing music and using his Radio Transmissions to give a voice to his community.
Soon after his inventiveness became clear, he was interviewed on local Television, but his fame really skyrocketed when he took part in a local Youth-oriented innovation challenge organised by David Sengeh, PH.D. Student at the M.I.T. Media Lab.
David was so impressed, that he helped Kelvin become the youngest person in history to be invited to the “Visiting Practitioner’s Program” at MIT. His three week journey in the USA is highlighted in the video above.
His story has since gone viral, inspiring millions and having been seen by more than 10 million people.
Subsequently, he also guest-lectured to undergraduates at Harvard, and presented at TEDxTeen in 2013, as highlighted in the video below:
There is one standout quote which I love from his speech, which is as follows:
Creativity is universal, and can be found in places where one does not expect to find it.
Perseverance and Passion are essential to nurturing that creative ability.
Wise words indeed to live by.
It just goes to show how strong the urge of curiosity and the desire to create something can be in everyone, from whatever walk of life they may come from
Do you like insights into creativity like this?
Then sign up for your FREE account from Idea to Value to not only get great pieces of insight like this every week, but also free training on improving your creativity and company innovation capabilities from some of the world’s leading innovation experts.
Latest posts by Nick Skillicorn (see all)
- Podcast S4E79: Gaia Grant – the profile of highly effective innovators - September 24, 2020
- Podcast S4E78: Dorie Clark – the importance of reinventing yourself - September 17, 2020
- Podcast S4E77: Karin Hurt & David Dye – how to help people express their creative courage - September 10, 2020
- Podcast S4E76: Tamara Ghandour – unlocking your competitive advantage with innovation - September 3, 2020