Inspiring youth village for orphans generates solar power for nearly 10% of Rwanda

November 15, 2017 by  
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More than one million people in a population of over 11 million in Rwanda are orphans . After hearing about this crisis, couple Anne Heyman and Seth Merrin started the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village (ASYV) to offer a safe community and four-year high school education for at-risk orphans. Today, over 500 teenagers from across Rwanda’s 30 districts call the youth village home — and an on-site solar plant provides clean energy to other parts of the country. After hearing about Rwanda’s orphan crisis, Heyman was reminded of youth villages Israel constructed to house children orphaned after the Holocaust. The couple began ASYV to help teenagers specifically, as they knew of several organizations already working to care for orphaned babies. On 144 acres, hundreds of teenagers now receive an education and a family. Related: This modular orphanage in Thailand was built using local and recycled materials ASYV organizes students into families. Each group has a mama, a Rwandan educator who resides in a house with the teens, and a big brother or big sister or Rwandan guidance counselor who visits once a week. They also have a cousin, a foreign volunteer who comes for a year. ASYV recruits teenagers from around the country, taking in 125 every year. A village Health and Wellness Center provides medical and mental care, with health education on topics like HIV/AIDS, malaria prevention, and diet. Life Enrichment Applied Programs allow students to get involved in athletics or the arts. A farm , where students can get hands-on farming experience, provides around 30 percent of the village’s food. There’s even a 8.5-megawatt solar plant on village grounds. According to ASYV, “It is the first sub-Saharan grid-connected solar project, and provides electricity to nearly 10 percent of Rwanda.” Students of mixed ethnicities live together, as the youth village hopes to express reconciliation in Rwanda. One student, who asked to remain nameless, told National Geographic, “Of course, I know that some of my brothers are born from parents who could have been killers in the genocide. But why should we punish them for crimes they did not commit? I don’t want to know what their parents did. I only see them as my brothers and sisters.” Ten years in, graduates of the youth village have gone on to higher education at universities like Brown University or the University of Pennsylvania. Student Emmanuel Nkund’unkundiye, at ASYV’s first graduation ceremony, said, “Many people call us orphans but this time we are no longer orphans, we have a home.” Check out ASYV’s website for more information on the community, or on how to get involved . + Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village Via National Geographic Images via Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village Facebook

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Inspiring youth village for orphans generates solar power for nearly 10% of Rwanda

Colorado appeals court sides with teenagers fighting oil and gas industry

March 27, 2017 by  
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Teenagers fighting environmental destruction at the hands of the oil and gas industry in Colorado just celebrated a victory. Last week the Colorado Court of Appeals sided with teenage activist and Earth Guardians director Xiuhtezcatl Martinez , who filed suit, and reversed a lower court ruling so the state could have to prioritize environmental protection before the interests of the fossil fuel industry . Back in 2013 Martinez and other teenagers approached the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC), a state organization that according to their website is charged with promoting responsible development of fossil fuel resources in Colorado “in a manner consistent with the protection of public health , safety, and welfare, including the environment and wildlife resources.” But apparently the kids didn’t think they were doing such a great job with that mission – and they weren’t alone. According to The Denver Post, COGCC officials for over 10 years have interpreted their mission to balance fossil fuel industry interests against public health. Since the commission’s formation, over 50,000 oil wells have been drilled. Related: 16-year-old activist demands US gov end fossil fuel use by 2026 The kids asked the organization to not issue any new drilling permits “unless the best available science demonstrates, and an independent third party organization confirms, that drilling can occur in a manner that does not cumulatively, with other actions, impair Colorado’s atmosphere, water, wildlife, and land resources, does not adversely impact human health, and does not contribute to climate change .” COGCC refused after holding a hearing. The teenagers appealed, with the support of over a dozen advocacy groups. But the Denver District Court backed the COGCC. So the teenagers appealed again, and last week a three-judge appeals court panel sided with the teenagers. The fight isn’t over. The COGCC doesn’t have to now implement the teenagers’ rule. Instead the ruling means the organization illegally rejected the rule, and the case returns to district court. Via Business Insider and The Denver Post Images via Xiuhtezcatl Martinez on Facebook and Teja Jonnalagadda on Facebook

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Colorado appeals court sides with teenagers fighting oil and gas industry

8 teenage inventions that could save the world

January 23, 2017 by  
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Sometimes the brightest ideas come in young packages. Teenagers from around the world demonstrate you don’t need a high school diploma to come up with a life-changing invention . From $13 germ-killing door handles to Braille printers, check out these eight teenage inventions that revolutionize the way we view energy , food, and, of course, the oceans . 14-year-old designs pedal-powered washing machine When assigned with laundry duty after her mother got sick, Remya Jose, a 14-year-old girl from India , designed an ingenious pedal-powered washing machine to save the time of doing laundry by hand in a nearby river. Jose made her clever washing machine with recycled bicycle components, creating an appliance that could greatly assist families who lack access to electricity. Related: 13-year-old Maanasa Mendu invents groundbreaking clean energy device that costs just $5 16-year-olds discover way to increase crop yields for Combating the Global Food Crisis project Garden-loving teenagers Ciara Judge, Émer Hickey, and Sophie Healy-Thow of Ireland won the Google Science Fair 2014 with their Combating the Global Food Crisis project. The 16-year-olds paired a bacteria often found in symbiotic relationships with legumes with crops it doesn’t typically associate with, namely oats and barley. Crops that tested their unique pairing were wildly successful, germinating in about half the time and producing a 74 percent greater drymass yield. Increasing crop yields is vital as the global population grows, and discoveries like this one could greatly impact the way we combat food poverty . 19-year-old invents Ocean Cleanup Array For several years now, Inhabitat has been covering the efforts of The Ocean Cleanup CEO Boyan Slat of the Netherlands , who at 19 years old invented an Ocean Cleanup Array , and we’re continually impressed by his persistence. The Ocean Cleanup recently completed their first aerial reconnaissance mission of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch . The results weren’t pretty – 1,000 large plastic pieces spotted in two hours – but there’s still hope to clean up the mess we’ve made. The Ocean Cleanup won the Katerva Award in 2016 , and feasibility studies indicate one 63-mile array could “remove 42 percent of the Great Pacific garbage patch in only 10 years.” 12-year-old builds inexpensive, working Braille printer 12-year-old Shubham Banerjee of California utilized a Lego Mindstorms EV3 kit and about $5 of hardware from Home Depot to design an innovative Braille printer , the Braigo v1.0, that cost way less than similar devices. Around 285 million people are visually impaired worldwide, according to World Health Organization data, but as Braille printers cost over $2,000 when Banerjee invented his device, his disruptive technology held the potential to change how the blind communicate. He went on to start a company, Braigo Labs , and about three years later, has released an app and web platform and continues to develop his groundbreaking printer (and he’s still in high school.) 17-year-old creates a device that can purify water and produce clean energy simultaneously Millions of people around the world live without electricity or clean water , and 17-year-old Cynthia Sin Nga Lam of Australia decided to tackle both issues at once with her portable H2Pro device. The H2Pro unit harnesses photocatalysis, or using light to speed up a chemical reaction, to sterilize water. As a side bonus, the process also yields hydrogen , which Lam said could be used to produce electricity. 17-year-old designs human waste bioreactor to turn human poo into clean energy When Kenya ‘s Maseno School opened up new dormitories for over 700 students in 2013, the area around the students’ home often smelled because of pit latrines and a defective sewage system, which also polluted local freshwater. High schooler Leroy Mwasaru and four friends came up with a solution: a human waste bioreactor that could transform waste into a clean cooking fuel for the kitchen, which had been using firewood. Today, Mwasaru is the founder of Greenpact , a group aiming to provide biogas solutions to over six million Kenyans who lack access to adequate sanitation and renewable energy . 17-year-old and 18-year-old design $13 germ-killing door handle 17-year-old Sun Ming (Simon) Wong and 18-year-old King Pong (Michael) Li of Hong Kong knew bacteria spreads via handles on doors or shopping carts touched by hundreds of people daily. So they hunted for a material that could kill that bacteria and found an answer in titanium oxide. Instead of simply coating a handle in titanium oxide, though, they added an LED light into a bracket holding the handle to truly activate the compound, which can then annihilate 99.8 percent of germs . Even better, the device only costs around $13, meaning it could be accessible for more people worldwide. 16-year-old utilizes ingredients found in pencils and sunscreen to create pollution-cleansing coating Sunscreen and pencils might not be the first two items you’d go to for answers to clean up pollution , but 16-year-old Samuel Burrow of England utilized two ingredients found in those common items to create a “paint-like coating” that has the power to break down pollutants with the help of light. He mixed titanium dioxide with graphene oxide for a concoction with not one, but several applications, in addition to a surface paint. As a sponge, Burrow’s mixture can purify water, and when combined with sand, it has the potential to filter heavy metals out of water. Just imagine how clean the world could be if all buildings were painted with Burrow’s marvelous mix. Images via Brit + Co ; Ciara Judge, Émer Hickey and Sophie Healy-Thow on Google+ ; The Ocean Cleanup ; Shubham Banerjee ; Google Science Fair ; Innovate Kenya ; Student Society for Science ; and screenshot

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Scientists turn eggshells into eco-friendly data-storage devices

January 23, 2017 by  
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Walk on eggshells? Not these scientists. A team from Guizhou Institute of Technology is working on a way to turn ground-up bits of the breakfast byproduct into a data-storage device that could pave the way for eco-friendlier computers. The device itself uses something called resistive random-access memory , ReRAM for short, a type of non-volatile, high-density yet energy-sipping memory system that could soon supplant your flash drive as a data silo. Instead of storing a charge, like conventional memory does, ReRAM works by creating electrical resistance across a dielectric solid-state material that transmits voltage without conducting it, essentially serving as an insulator. As it turns out, eggshells have a “large resistive-switching memory,” as the scientists noted in the February 2017 issue of Current Applied Physics , where they published their findings. But don’t start sticking eggs in your USB port just yet. To create the device, they first pulverized the shells for hours into an ultra-fine, nanoscale powder, which they then dissolved in solution. Related: Scientists invent the world’s first microchip powered by biological systems The resulting paste, coated onto a substrate, became the electrolyte portion of a memory chip, that is, the part that carries the electrical charge. Whatever they did worked. The eggshell-based device was able to write 100 bits of binary code into its memory before it broke down. It’ll take some tinkering before the device can stack up against materials that can manage billions of cycles, but the promise is there. “This discovery provides for the possibility of an environmentally friendly, low-cost and sustainable material application in the next-generation nonvolatile date storage device,” the scientists said. Egg -citing. Via New Scientist Photos by Kullez and Bruce Guenter

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Scientists turn eggshells into eco-friendly data-storage devices

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