Inspiration Kenyan Teen Lion Stopping Light Inventor
How can you convince your students that there is a future science, technology, engineering and math genius living inside of them and they just don’t know it? Share the story of Kenyan teen Richard Turere with them. Turere has become a Ted Talk celebrity and the subject of a flurry of news reports for his simple lion repelling light invention that employs some nifty science and engineering ideas.
He and his family live on the southern side of Nairobi National Park in Kenya. That side isn’t protected by a fence. As a result lions would wander out of the park and attack his family’s cattle. As the caretaker of the family flock, Turere was very upset about this. He decided to come up with an idea to resolve the problem.
He noticed that the lions were afraid of moving lights. To emulate that, he positioned up to five LED torch bulbs around the family cattle stockade.
He then automated the lights by connecting them to a box of switches and an old car battery fired up with a solar panel used to power his family’s television set. The lights would flash sequentially and worked to scare the lions off.
Here is a copy of the diagram he drew for the Lion Lights.
Because of the invention, Turere’s family no longer has a lion problem. Neither does his neighbors after he installed the same system for their homesteads. What makes this story all the more amazing is that Turere has no formal training in science and engineering. But he did use scientific principles, his imagination and trial and error to come up with the solution.
Some of the ideas he tried that failed included propping one lamp on a cowshed and creating a scarecrow.
Watch him tell his story in the Ted Talk below.
His ingenuity has been rewarded with a Ted Talk appearance and a scholarship to the Brookhouse School in Nairobi where he plans to study engineering. Inspire your students to use their imaginations, science, technology, engineering and math to come up with solutions to problems in their communities.
Here are some competitive incentives:
- The Siemen’s We Can Change the World Challenge - a competition that challenges students to create sustainable, reproducible environmental improvements in their local communities.
- The Google Science Fair - online science competition where students submit ideas to change the world.