At 14 years old ,William Kamkwamba, a young man in northern Malawi, taught himself how to build windmills for power generation.  Drawing inspiration from a book he took from a local library, he constructed several windmills out of available materials, and used them to power lights, and a radio.

You can learn about his work in an excellent YouTube video called Moving Windmills. His work on windmills earned him press attention in 2006 and he was a guest speaker at the 2007 TED conference, an organization focused on bringing together innovators in Technology, Entertainment and Design. William is now in secondary school at new leadership academy South Africa and runs a blog here.

While the potential for wind power, especially in developing countries is an important lesson of William’s story, the challenge of disparities in educational resources also stands out. It may be easy to take for granted access to libraries, and especially the internet, but many do not have access to such resources. Not only is access to educational resources valuable for its own sake, but William’s creations highlights their value in allowing for innovation, and facilitating the ability of gifted youth develop their skills.

While education is crucial, so is access to other forms of information one can pursue individually. What can be done to try to address this issue? There are a lot of ideas out there and I would love to hear people’s thoughts.

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