Next time you think you’re really smart because you installed your own car stereo or fixed your toilet, you might want to check your ego with the knowledge that a 13-year-old kid from Sierra Leone named Kelvin Doe is probably about 400 times smarter than you are. With almost no training, he is able to build — often from scraps he finds in the trash — batteries, transmitters, and generators.
Granted, Kelvin has always had a pretty powerful motivation for making stuff. Sierra Leone doesn’t have a dependable electrical infrastructure, and the lights only come on once a week or so. But where he goes, light follows. He has created battery lights to power people’s homes. He has made an FM radio transmitter. And at MIT, where he is the youngest person ever to be part of their visiting practitioner’s program, he is working to develop these skills so that he can return to his country and improve the quality of life.
Oh, and if that’s not enough, Kelvin is also a DJ who goes by the name DJ Focus (he believes that if you focus you can make “the perfect invention”). It’s his goal to bring a radio station to his country so that there is a forum for information and public debate. What a kid.
Doubtless someone will try and recruit Doe to be part of our nation’s brain trust, but he might not be interested in that, since he “doesn’t love the food in America.” Watch this video to see him work, focus, be adorable, call his mom, and be rewarded at an African restaurant in Boston with a big plate of stuff he actually likes to eat.