Brothers Rohit and Sidharth Srinivasan were Texas middle school students when they had the opportunity to spend several summers volunteering at orphanages in India. Their time was spent conducting some of their favorite STEM activities, engaging the kids in science, technology, engineering and math. But they were disappointed and concerned by the lack of access to useable supplies and STEM materials in India and other developing countries. How would these kids be adequately prepared to compete for highly technical jobs without access to 21st-century technologies?
Fast forward a few years to 2018—the brothers are now in high school and college, and their innovative solution has been realized. In the intervening years, they found a like-minded partner, pitched their idea to investors, won numerous prestigious innovation awards and had a successful crowd-funding campaign. The result is Trashbots™, “science and engineering kits with an artistic twist.” The brothers and their partner work together on hardware and software development, distributing robot kits with a user-friendly curriculum that promotes critical thinking and problem-solving. They encourage users to combine the kit’s electronic components with trash and found materials, thus embracing a reduce, reuse and recycle philosophy.
Many 21st century kids are well connected, with access to a wealth of information at their fingertips. This includes connections to current events, which give them real-time information about their young peers around the world. Access to media can promote empathy and build compassion, as kids relate catastrophic world events and the challenges others face in their own lives. While recognizing how fortunate they are, some kids begin to wonder how they can help. Through regular communication, parents and teachers can put world events in perspective and support independent learning project ideas that allow kids to impact global issues right in their own local areas.
Technology Enables Glocalization
Since young innovators are more globally connected than their predecessors thanks to access to technology, Rohit and Sidharth were able to use their creative ingenuity to increase access to innovative potential for kids in developing countries. Kids are moved by compelling stories all the time, perhaps none more so than those of kids their own age. And whether the kid who needs help is a classmate they know personally or a contemporary on another continent, global connectivity has heralded an era of glocalization, addressing and solving issues of global significance by acting in our local environment.
A Variety of Ways to Get Involved
Many kids develop empathy from a young age, particularly when they have positive and compassionate role models to learn from. Whether their goal is to help their own family, the larger community or strangers far away, empathy and compassion can be powerful motivating forces that create change and “move mountains.” Here are some examples of independent learning projects undertaken by kids with the goal of helping others:
- Lemonade stands — Whether selling lemonade, cookies or small handmade trinkets, this time-honored tradition has kids exchanging homemade goods for small earnings right in their own neighborhoods. Some kids designate the proceeds for charitable or compassionate purposes, which appeals to kind hearted friends and passers-by and may prompt them to purchase or donate accordingly. A lemonade stand is an entrepreneurial learning experience that teaches kids about business and finance skills, goal setting and teamwork. They get to stretch their cooking or crafting skills, as well as their creative advertising ideas.
- Fundraising — Whether collecting pennies during Halloween for UNICEF, setting up a Go-Fund-Me page or compiling a video production, caring kids can make an impact by simply appealing to others on behalf of a worthy cause. This is where compassionate storytellers can use their skills to tell a compelling story in a way that touches the hearts of others. By using drawings, photos and music, creative fundraisers can increase their impact by generating empathy in prospective donors through the use of digital media.
- Volunteer action — Kids motivated by environmental and social issues in their communities are taking physical action that impacts change. Inspired by the plight of animals, kids are rolling up their sleeves to clean up the environment, change industrial practices and alter human habits. Kids are creating projects motivated by the needs of their fellow human beings, including collecting food, clothing and hygiene items for homeless individuals and others in need.
- Creating an innovation project — Ironically, the innovative Trashbots™ project increases the innovation potential for kids all over the world. Like the Srinivasan brothers and their inexpensive robotics kits for kids in underdeveloped countries, many kids have unique ideas that will benefit other kids. With encouragement and support for their creative ideas, young changemakers are taking risks to implement programs that make a difference. Internet connectivity provides a wide range of supports, including platforms to collaborate, market, advertise, fund and expand their independent projects.
Supporting Youthful Innovators
Whether their goal is to impact the local environment or to tackle global issues, Camp Galileo and Galileo Summer Quest have the express purpose of nurturing the next generation of changemakers. Through fun and engaging summer adventures, Galileo supports young innovators by emphasizing and modeling the Innovator’s Mindset. Campers spend each week learning to see themselves as visionary, courageous, collaborative, determined and reflective innovators. Through interesting themes and immersive majors, kids can focus their passions and hone their critical thinking and problem-solving skills. A Galileo summer experience helps kids see themselves as innovators capable of amazing ideas and productive action.
With a little support and encouragement, kids with a passion for helping others can have far-reaching action. Unprecedented connectivity gives kids a worldwide platform on which to focus their innovative ideas. They can appeal to a wider audience and impact lives far away. The confidence gained by impacting change, even on a small scale, will be invaluable as young innovators grow, sharing their talents and passions with the world.
To support your passionate changemaker, check out an innovation summer camp in your area: San Francisco, Southern California, and Chicagoland. Sign up for our mailing list to keep up-to-date on our camp happenings and innovation resources, including camp locations, summer schedules and special offers.