Who are these guys: Eric Harris, Dylan Klebold, Kip Kinkle, and and Seung Hui Cho? Answer: infamous mass murderers who targeted schools in the United States.
Okay how about these: Quin Etnyre, Sara Volz, Jack Andraka, and Deepika Kurup. Answer: some of the kids most likely to find cures for dreadful diseases and maybe save the planet.
While the biggest headlines go to school shooters, the feel good stories get buried in the back pages. For every deranged assassin there are hundreds of really brilliant young people doing amazing things. They may be our best hope for reversing horrible illnesses and saving the planet, but how many can we name? The fact that we mostly don’t know these shining lights is just plain weird. We should be singing their praises on a regular basis, showering them with fame and fortune, plastering their pictures on electronic billboards in Times Square. Time should have an annual Teen of the Year cover. Perhaps someday.
In the meantime, I’m at least going to do my part, although I’m sure I’m barely scratching the surface–so many budding Einsteins, so little time and space, (relatively speaking!) Here are some young science geniuses to pay attention to:
- Quin Etnyre, a 12-year old inventor/prodigy featured in Popular Science in September, 2013. Quin sells customized ArduSensors “that can measure flex, force, light, knocks, temperature, magnetism and, yes, methane.”
- Jack Andraka, a Maryland teenager who invented a simple, cheap and effective method for detecting pancreatic, lung and ovarian cancer.
- Sara Volz, 17, of Colorado Springs, Colorado, who built a lab under her loft bed, where she invented a method for building a next-generation algae biofuel. (I took liberties and put her on a box of Wheaties, above.)
- Deepika Kurup, who created an affordable method for water purification that could save millions of lives.
I bow down to these kids with superpowers. Somebody get them some capes!
We should be doing everything we can, as a planet, to nurture and honor such talents, and to help our own children see what their truly heroic peers look like. No disrespect intended toward our great athletes, but Deepika Kurup’s face is the one we should see on a box of Wheaties. Digital Times Square billboards should honor kids who can save the world. Instead, we get models in underwear.