Some kids aren’t just smart, they’re superstars.
These 15 prodigies — all 18 years old or younger — are spending their childhood and teen years making the world a better place. Some use art, some use science, and some use technology. But all of them have big hearts and even bigger ideas.
Here are their inspiring stories:
When she was only four years old, Ulmer was thinking of ideas for a children's business competition. Then she got stung by a bee -- twice. Suddenly, Ulmer was fascinated by bees. She learned that they're a crucial part of our ecosystem, and that their numbers are dropping at an alarming rate.
That's when her idea for Me & The Bees Lemonade was born: She would start selling lemonade sweetened with local honey from Texas, and donate a portion of the profits to organisations fighting to protect honeybee populations.
In 2015, Ulmer pitched the business on the reality show Shark Tank and snagged an investment of $60,000, Forbes reports. Now, her drinks are sold at retailers in 14 states.
Hasan Zafar, 15, and his sister Shireen, 13, founded The Street School so that homeless kids in Karachi, Pakistan can get an education.
In early 2016, Hasan and Shireen decided to dedicate their after-school free time to other kids who wanted an education. Together, they transformed an open lot into The Street School.
In Pakistan, many parents don't support their children's education -- instead, kids are forced to work or beg for money in the street. So Hasan and Shireen decided to start their school day at 4 p.m., accommodating students who must spend their days engaged in non-educational activities.
Today, the siblings told INSIDER, they have increased enrollment from 25 to 80 students, and they now employ six paid teachers. They also support students by giving them money, food, and clothes.
Swimmer Yusra Mardini, 18, was forced to flee war-torn Syria while training for the Rio Olympics. Along the way, she saved 20 lives.
Mardini and her sister (also a swimmer) were loaded into a tiny dinghy with 18 other refugees as they fled to a Greek island. When the engine failed and the boat began to take on water, Mardini and her sister jumped overboard and swam the boat to safety, the New York Times reports.
Later, once she had safely reached Germany, Mardini learned that she had made the Olympic refugee team. In Rio, she didn't win any medals, but Mardini's mere presence at the games -- given her harrowing experience escaping Syria -- inspired millions of spectators across the globe.
Robby Novak, 12, is a Youtube personality who makes millions laugh -- even though he suffers from a rare disease.
About three years ago, Novak and his older brother-in-law started making videos in which Novak played a giggly, effervescent character known as Kid President. Soon, actor Rainn Wilson invited Kid President to be a guest artist on his Youtube channel. The rest was history.
Novak's first viral hit -- a motivational video titled 'A Pep Talk from Kid President to You' -- has been viewed more than 38 million times. (And it's still worth a watch.)
Novak's infectious laughter and positive attitude are all the more remarkable knowing that he suffers from osteogenesis imperfecta, a rare, genetic disorder that causes brittle bones. Novak has had more than 70 broken bones and 13 surgeries in his short life, ABC News reports.
Through it all, he's continued to make new videos, urging viewers to be more tolerant, compassionate, confident, and generous.
Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, 16, is a hip-hop artist and activist who's addressed the UN on environmental policy.
By the time he was 12, Martinez had already organised 35 different rallies and protests near his home of Boulder, Colorado. He was also a key figure in local movements to ban pesticides in city parks, implement a fee on plastic bags, and reduce pollution from coal power plants, the Denver Post reports.
Martinez is one of the leaders of a global organisation called Earth Guardians, and he uses both music and organising skills to get young people involved in the fight against climate change. He even got a chance to speak at the United Nations in 2015.
Canadian inventor Makosinksi won the top prize at the Google Science Fair in 2013 for her creation known as the Hollow Flashlight -- a handheld light that converts heat from the the human hand into electricity that powers an LED light bulb. The flashlight could have big implications for those who live without reliable access to electricity or batteries.
Three years later, she developed another genius invention, the eDrink, which uses heat from your coffee mug to power your computer.
When she was in third grade in South Carolina, Stagliano planted a single cabbage in backyard. It grew to weigh 40 pounds, and when she donated the monster veggie to a local soup kitchen, it helped feed 275 people. That's when she got an idea: What if she could keep growing produce to help feed the hungry?
Today, her organisation, Katie's Krops, operates 100 gardens -- all tended by kids -- in 32 different states. The food grown in each garden makes its way to those who need it most.
Penn, of Atlanta, Georgia, design and sells a line of t-shirts, dresses, hats, mittens, jewellery, scarves, and more -- all made of environmentally-friendly materials. Penn also donates 10 -- 20% of her profits to organisations that benefit the environment.
Tomov, of Tennessee, was recently named as a finalist in the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge. Her project could help patients and doctors figure out who might have negative responses to prescription drugs -- before they take the first pill.
She told Business Insider that she was inspired to take on the project after watching pharmaceutical commercials with long lists of side effects. She also learned that adverse drug reactions cause more deaths than AIDS, diabetes, pulmonary disease, or pneumonia, according to the FDA.
Tomov learned that some people have gene mutations associated with negative drug reactions. But searching a person's entire genome to find one mutation takes a really long time.
So Tomov found an algorithm that could speed up the process of sifting through genes -- then made it even faster by coding it to run on multiple computer processors at the same time. It's a project with the potential to save thousands of lives.
Svitak, of Washington state, began her career as a prolific writer: She had written 300 short stories by the age of 7, and went on to pen three books, including a novel. But she became internationally famous for her TED Talk, 'What adults can learn from kids,' which was viewed by millions and translated into more than 40 languages.
Since then, she's become an eloquent champion of kids across the world: She spoke at the UN's Economic and Social Council's Youth Forum, served as a Verizon Foundation Literacy Champion, and delivered the Girl's State of the Union.
Today, she is a student at UC Berkeley.
At age 9, Vincent saw many of his favourite surfers get involved the UN's World Water Day. He wanted to help, too. So he ran fundraisers in his community, raising money to purchase lifesaving water filters. Later, he travelled with his family to the Indonesia's Mentawai Islands to implement the filters in person.
Soon, Vincent, who's based in Australia, partnered with Waves for Water, developing a program that allows kids to replicate his fundraising success in their own schools.
It's called Surf to School Day: Kids are given the opportunity to come to school dressed in board shorts, sundresses, Hawaiian shirts, and other surf gear, and in return, they pledge to donate some spare change to Waves for Water.
So far, Surf to School Days across the world have raised more than $30,000 towards purchasing water filters.
One day, while walking in her native India, Srisai noticed that farmers had discarded huge piles of corn cobs, leaving them on the side of the road to shrivel up.
She brought one home, placed it in a bowl of water, and noticed that, later, the water looked cleaner. Soon, she was experimenting with dried corn cobs and their ability to absorb contaminants from water.
She eventually developed a system that was able to remove 70 -- 80% of contaminants from the water -- and it earned her a $10,000 prize at last year's Google Science Fair.
As a child, Ahmed found himself on a TSA watch list, just because of his Middle Eastern name. As he got older, the Princeton, New Jersey teen noticed that many people made unfair judgments about him based on both his Muslim faith and the colour of his skin.
Dealing with these prejudices inspired Ahmed to create an organisation called Redefy. Its mission: 'to boldly defy stereotypes' amd 'embrace acceptance and tolerance.'
Redefy serves as an online home for those who want to share their stories of dealing with racism and intolerance. But it also leads student workshops and community events to foster understanding between diverse groups of people.
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