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6 Young Innovators Whose STEM Ideas Are Helping Make the World A Better Place

They are building the world they wish to see.

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When we talk about making the world a better place, these young people are doing just that. Their creativity, curiosity, experiences, and challenges led them to develop ideas that are making an impact on the world.

Our STEM Works for Me program educates you about the options and career paths available! From detecting diseases to protecting the environment, young people are bringing their ideas to life through STEM. Check out our list of six incredible innovators below. Who knows? Maybe you’ll be inspired to change the world through STEM!

1. Erin Smith (she/her)

Who doesn’t love a good selfie? Now, imagine using selfies to detect and monitor diseases and disorders? Well, that’s exactly what Erin Smith has been working on! After watching a video from the Michael J. Fox Foundation, a foundation focused on Parkinson’s research, Erin noticed how a smile or laugh came off as emotionally distant years before patients were diagnosed. While still in high school, Erin developed Faceprint, an early detection tool for Parkinson’s Disease and other neurological disorders. Her goal is to transform disease detection and treatment. Talk about life-saving work!

2. Fionn Ferreira (he/him)

Meet twenty-year-old Irish inventor, environmental activist, and entrepreneur, Fionn Ferreira! Growing up by the sea, Fionn wanted to take action to help solve the plastic pollution problem. With all things environment in mind, Fionn has created devices to test for microplastics in water and extract them in a way that is environmentally friendly. He won the 2019 Google Science Fair and founded Fionn & Co. in hopes of building out his invention to remove microplastics from the water on a larger scale.

3. Xóchitl Guadalupe Cruz López (she/her)

Xóchitl Guadalupe Cruz López is making a difference in people’s lives in Mexico. The eleven-year-old’s “Warm Bath” invention, while not her first, is the one that has received the most attention. Xóchitl used the resources at her disposal to help make hot water more accessible for low-income individuals in her community while also reducing deforestation. The Warm Bath is a solar-powered water heater that uses recycled materials to warm up water for baths. This not only prevents people from getting sick but reduces the need to cut down trees for firewood to heat the water. At the age of nine, she became the first child to win a prestigious science prize from Mexico’s National Autonomous University (UNAM). Her creations are a huge win for people and the planet! Bravo!

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4. Elif Bilgin (she/her)

Elif Bilgin has always been super curious, and it really has paid off! Growing up in Turkey, she taught herself to read and write at the age of four and began inventing at the age of eight! But it was at the age of fourteen that she was inspired to reduce plastic pollution in the water in Istanbul. She began an experiment to make bioplastic out of banana peels. After several attempts, she was finally able to produce successful results that won her several awards including Google Science Fair 2013 and Voters’ Choice Awards. After studying biomedical engineering and computer science in college, she landed a job at Google as a software engineer!

5. Hannah Herbst (she/her)

Problem-solving and helping others? Leave it to Hannah Herbst to make an impact through STEM! Hannah was introduced to engineering at a summer camp where she was the only girl. She loved it and was inspired by her pen pal living in Sub-Saharan Africa to create a device that captured energy from ocean waves to provide energy to developing countries. She called it BEACON--Bringing Electricity Access to Country through Ocean Energy. Since then, she has won the 2015 Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge, addressed the United Nations, and won various awards. We love to see this world-changing work!

6. Rifath Shaarook (he/him)

Rifath Shaarook’s innovation is truly out of this world! He was able to develop KalamSat, the world’s lightest satellite from scratch! Although this was not his first invention, the Indian innovator created a cube-sized, lightweight satellite that weighs in at 0.14 pounds! KalamSat was launched into space by NASA in June 2017 and was carried by the Terrier Orion rocket. Rifath’s work will help lead to smaller and more cost-efficient and eco-friendly satellites!

These young people are perfect examples of what it means to do world-changing work through STEM. If there’s one thing we are taking away from this is that the sky is NOT the limit when it comes to creating and innovating! Take the STEM Works For Me quiz to find out what STEM job might be a good fit for you and how you can also do world-changing work!

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