We just got back from our MIT field trip, and I'm still head shaking about how inspiring it is to hear talks from people that are so passionate about their work and about their world-changing ideas.
Here is a link to 2 Rice professors that have an engineering class that focuses on inventions to help people around the world. I still tear up when I watch it. My impression is that it is the students that think up the inventions. These professors will donate their winnings to establishing a new hospital in the African region they work with.
Here is a link to an MIT professor that uses the knowledge that organisms have to create digital solutions. One of the inspiring about her is that many times established journals thought her ideas were ridiculous and undo-able.Another inspiring thing about her is that she created her own undergraduate major that combined several disciplines. She also started her PhD program in a subject she had had no previous experience in, but had the confidence and grit and determination and curiosity to push through.
Here is lab we visited. Students again think up and create solutions to problems plaguing developing countries. Some examples we saw were bike powered washing machines, ways of using corn cobs to create charcoal, wheel chairs that can maneuver around rough terrain.
Here is a link to the inventor of Fenugreen. She had the germ of her idea as a middle school or high school student and kept thinking about it but not pursuing it. She then tried to pursue it once with bad results. Then she put it away again. Then finally things slowly took off and she is currently working full time on her product.
The collegiate student winners were also inspiring. Some messages I hope the HS students listening to them took away:
1. Be curious, be open, be persistent, have a team.
2. Just because you are "average" in high school, does not mean you can't go on to do amazing things later.
3. Be passionate about what you do, and work hard.
4. Do things not because it will just look good on your resume, but because you are genuinely interested in them.