What were you doing when you were 17? For many of us, this was a time of both disorientation and discovery, if spending way too much time updating the newest selife on social media, or heading to the nearest party. As for Cynthia Sin Nga Lam, this was a time to innovate the unexpected. This teen took full advantage of the period of cognitive growth by thinking abstractly to solve a problem.
Lam was looking for away to help the millions of people lacking access to clean water and electricity. The Australian high school teen developed a device that purifies wastewater and creates power at the same time.
Her invention, called the H2Pro consists of a portable device powered only by sunlight. It functions by directing dirty water into one end, and the sun activates a a titanium mesh, sterilizing the water and sending it through an extra filter. “There are some technologies for purifying water that are similar, but you’d need an extra source of electricity,” says Lam. “For this one, you only need sunlight and titania. It can generate a very efficient source of clean electricity as well.” Sources say the module is easy to maintain and extremely cost-effective as well, which are both important considerations taken by Lam for utilization in developing countries.
Lam can be described as a “teen outlier” with a vision to step outside the norm and pursue what it takes to reach her greatest potential. Although the invention itself still has a lot of finalizing and work to be done, that won’t stop Lam. Her profound passion to make an impact on the world is what will push her toward success.
So if after this article, you find yourself both excited at the possibility of a new way to provide clean water and power, while also wondering why you never came up with that, take note: you too can be an “outlier”. Cynthia Sin Nga Lam’s invention is a simple example of what persistence and hard work look like. No matter your age, there is always room for personal achievement. You never truly know what you can do with those everyday thoughts and dreams if you don’t try. Who knows, maybe it could even impact 783 million people in the best way possible.
Food for thought:
- Put your cell phone away at your next science class. You might just be surprised at what you could learn.
- Most inventions start up out of a garage. This may be a good place to spend some time thinking, it worked for Steve Jobs.
Uber Practical Tips
- Take a notepad with you everywhere. Richard Branson wrote an article in Forbes about this and swears by writing down those random ideas that come to you at odd moments!
- Dream bigger- ask yourself the question what you would do if you didn’t have any obstacles, and journal about it. I learned this from my college advisor.
- Quiz yourself- find out your personality type, take the DISC assessment, or Myers Briggs to reaffirm your strengths and weaknesses and know where to go from there. The links to either of those can be found in this blog post.
- Baby Steps- If you do have a great idea, and are ready to run with it but don’t know where to start, break everything down step by step. When you take a large goal and write down how exactly to go about it, the vastness of it doesn’t weigh so heavy on your mind, creating doubts or hesitancy. Checking off each baby item also gives an incredibly great sense of accomplishment, helping you reach your goal step by step. U.S. News & Weekly Reports swears by this!
- Pick up a copy of the Outlier Series book that most applies to you. You just may be inspired by more of other people’s stories!