It's true that most teens are only worried about taking selfies, messaging or playing games, but not these. Meet ten dedicated youths who are spending their time and energy to create new things to make a better world for everyone.
1The 11-year old who invented a gadget to prevent parents from leaving their babies in hot cars
An 11-year-old Nashville student has invented a simple device that could save lives.
After learning approximately 38 children die each year from being left in hot cars, young Andrew Pelham felt compelled to do something. He entered The Rubber Band Contest for Young Inventors, which is held each year in Akron, Ohio. (The city is also known as the rubber capital of the United States.)
There is only one rule for contestants – they must use rubber bands in their invention. With that in mind, Andrew created the E-Z Baby Saver and won second place, taking home US$500.
Andrew thought his amazing invention might be a cheap way to help parents remember when they have a child in the back seat. The E-Z Baby Saver is a simple device made of duct tape and rubber bands. The device renders parents unable to walk away from the car when a child is still inside. It is a strap that stretches from the back seat to the front and attaches to the driver's side door.
Andrew used his prize money to buy a laptop and create his website.
2The 11-year old cancer survivor who invented a chemotherapy bag
When she was 8 years old, Kylie Simonds of Naugatuck, Connecticut was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, a cancer of the connective tissues. She is now in remission and recovering from the ordeal.
Throughout her illness, one of the obstacles she endured were I-V pole wires that would cause her to constantly trip. She also needed to help pushing the pole around because it was too heavy for her.
Kylie invented a pediatric IV backpack – a wearable, portable IV machine for kids receiving chemotherapy or transfusions. The bag even comes in colorful designs. She calls it the I-Pack.
Kylie's design won a prize at the Connecticut Invention Convention in August 2014. She has secured a patent and is trying to raise money to put the backpack into production.
3The 13-year old who claimed to have invented a lollipop that cures hiccups
In 2012, a thirteen-year-old girl launched a potentially lucrative business built around her unusual cure for hiccups. Kievman's idea for a cure came after she was afflicted with a stubborn case of the hiccups two years before and decided to test a number of folk remedies, from sipping water out of an upside-down cup to drinking salt water.
Eventually, after curing her hiccups, the future doctor combined her three favorite remedies to form her own (patent pending) cure for the annoying ailment.
Her three part cure is composed of sugar, apple cider vinegar, and lollipops. While she claims she is still in the process of “tweaking the taste,” her invention has already received a considerable amount of attention and has resulted in her enlistment of M.B.A. students, who will assist with launching her start-up.
She named her product Hiccupops.
4The grandson of an Alzheimer patient who created a sensor for patients with dementia
A New York teenager whose grandfather suffers from Alzheimer's disease won a $50,000 science prize for developing wearable sensors that send mobile alerts when a dementia patient begins to wander away from bed.
Kenneth Shinozuka, 15, who took home the Scientific American Science in Action Award, said his invention was inspired by his grandfather's symptoms, which frequently caused him to wander from bed in the middle of the night and hurt himself.
His invention uses coin-sized wireless sensors that are worn on the feet of a potential wanderer. The sensors detect pressure caused when the person stands up, triggering an audible alert on a caregiver's smartphone using an app.
The award honors a project that aims to make a practical difference by addressing an environmental, health or resources challenge, said Scientific American Editor in Chief Mariette DiChristina.
5The sophomore prodigy who created a pancreatic cancer detection tool
Over 85 percent of all pancreatic cancers are diagnosed late, when someone has less than two percent chance of survival.
So when news broke in 2011 that a test had been developed that might detect early pancreatic cancer, the research world not only took notice, it went into shock – for the test hadn't been developed by some renowned cancer research institute, but by a boy wonder, a 15-year-old high school freshman named Jack Andraka.
Jack convinced an eminent cancer researcher to let him use his lab to develop his theory, all before he even had a license to drive. While the test must undergo years of clinical trials, the biotech industry has already beaten a path to Jack's door.
Jack beat out 1,500 contestants to win won the grand prize at the Intel International Science Fair with his invention. The self-described science geek received $100,000 in prize money.
6The young father who created a pacifier with built-in thermometer
Native Chicagoan Anthony Halmon is only a freshman at Cornell University, but he's already made a name for himself. In 2013, the young father came up with the idea to create a pacifier that doubles as a thermometer. It's called the Thermofier. His creation is described as an improvement on existing models already on store shelves.
The idea came from his concern for his young daughter and not always being able to easily discern when the baby wasn't feeling well. His invention earned him a visit to the White House and a meeting with President Obama.
Halmon, who is interested in studying sociology and government, is from Chicago's Englewood area. He described it as a “tough, rough” place with “a lot of violence and gangs.” Growing up, he said, he was accosted regularly by various gang members due to the reputation of one of his relatives. The year that his father died (his sophomore year in high school) was also the year he learned he was to be a father. The teen made it his goal to better his life for the sake of his daughter, who is now 3 years old.
7The high school student's invention that could charge your phone in 20 seconds
Waiting hours for a cell phone to charge may become a thing of the past, thanks to an 18-year-old high-school student's invention. In 2013, Eesha Khare won a $50,000 prize at an international science fair for creating an energy storage device that can be fully juiced in 20 to 30 seconds. The fast-charging device is a so-called supercapacitor, a gizmo that can pack a lot of energy into a tiny space, charges quickly and holds its charge for a long time.
What's more, it can last for 10,000 charge-recharge cycles, compared with 1,000 cycles for conventional rechargeable batteries, according to the young inventor, who hails from Saratoga, CA.
To date, Eesha has used the supercapacitor to power a light-emitting diode, or LED. The invention's future is even brighter. She sees it fitting inside cellphones and the other portable electronic devices that are proliferating in today's world, freeing people and their gadgets for a longer time from reliance on electrical outlets.
Khare's invention won her the Intel Foundation Young Scientist Award at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, conducted in Phoenix, Ariz.
8The teenager who won an award for his invention which turns CO2 into oxygen while you drive
Who knew a teenager just learning how to drive could come up with a device to reduce pollution coming from his car?
A student has won an award from the Environmental Protection Agency for his environmentally friendly invention which cleans car exhaust that would normally pollute the air. Param Jaggi, a 17-year-old senior at Plano East High School, came up with the idea after seeing how much carbon dioxide was released from a car.
Param designed a device called the “Algae Mobile,” which is inserted into the exhaust pipe on the back side of a car. Through photosynthesis, algae inside the gas-permeable, aluminum alloy tube converts carbon dioxide into oxygen and releases it into the air for humans to breathe.
Param won $8,000 over the years and in 2011, an EPA award for sustainability. The EPA chose his concept out of more than 1,500 at the Intel International Science Fair.
9The teen who claims that his invention will save the world's oceans
A Dutch teenager has invented a device that he claims could clean up some 20 billion tons of plastic waste from the world's oceans.
Boyan Slat, 19, came up with the idea of a series of floating booms and processing platforms designed to collect floating plastic rubbish. The "ocean cleanup" concept is designed to capture the floating plastic, but allow fish and plankton to pass through unharmed, while saving the waste materials to be recycled.
While the young inventor believes humans must end their reliance on disposable plastic items and manage waste responsibly, his innovation could make a big difference to the cleanliness of oceans in the shorter-term.
Mr. Slat is now a student at the Delft University of Technology. He came up with the idea while at school and won a number of prizes and the respect of marine experts.
10The high school students who invented an air freshener made out of cow poop
Who would think about making air freshener using cow manure? The answer is two high school students from Indonesia.
Dwi Nailul Izzah and Rintya Aprianti Miki won first prize in the country's Science Project Olympiad with their alternative and environmentally-friendly air freshener.
The air freshener is said to have a natural fragrance of herbs and is good for human health because it doesn't contain any harmful chemicals like other fresheners on the market.
The girls collected cow dung from a cattle farm in Lamongan regency of East Java and left it to ferment for three days. They then extracted water from the cow dung and mixed it with coconut water. The liquid was distilled to remove any impurities and the end product is a liquid air freshener with a natural aroma of herbs from digested cow food.