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They Did What?: 

7 genius kids that could change the world

What were you doing when you were six-years-old? Chances are, not a lot. At a stretch you might have built something nice out of Lego, but, let’s be honest, it probably wasn’t nearly as impressive as your parents told you it was at the time. That’s totally fine, the truth is that 99.9% of children don’t do anything of worth until they’re old enough to vote. If you’re a kid, then constructing underwhelming Lego buildings is practically your job, and you’ve just been made employee of the month.

Having said all that, there will always be the genius kids of the world to show you up…

These genius kids could change the world;

1. Reuben Paul, 9-years-old


This nine-year-old cybersecurity expert made headlines earlier this year, when he demonstrated how an Android smartphone can be hacked in minutes during his keynote speech at the Security B-sides conference. That’s right, during his keynote speech.

Paul isn’t your average child hacker causing trouble in his bedroom though, he’s actually the CEO of his own company, Prudent Games, which attempts to raise awareness of security threats through educational apps and software. The company’s games include Cracker Proof, which teaches good password practice, and Crack Me If you Can, which teaches all about brute force attacks. The young Austin, Texas-based entrepreneur works as lead designer and developer, and is also the Youngest Shaolin Do Kung Fu Black Belt in the United States. So don’t mess with him.

2. Kenneth Shinozuka, 15-years-old


For most teenagers, design skills extend about as far as the create-a-player function on FIFA, but at just six-years-old Kenneth Shinozuka was designing a motion detection system to help a family friend who had slipped in the shower. Fast forward a few years and Shinozuka is still inventing products that help others, in particular for his grandfather, who suffers from Alzheimers disease.

Last year the New York whizz kid unveiled a wearable sensor, named Safe Wander, that attaches to the foot or sock of mental health patients and alerts carers if they roam too far. The invention was well received at the 2014’s Google Science Fair, also winning the $50,000 Scientific American Science in Action Award. Shinozuka explains the concept in more depth in his TED Talk.

3 Priyanshi Somani, 16-years-old


Priyanshi Somani is a mental calculator, or, in other words, a math genius capable of answering ridiculously complicated sums faster than you can type them into a computer. In 2010, she was not only the youngest ever participant in the Mental Calculation World Cup, but she took home the trophy with 100% accuracy in the Addition, Multiplication and Square Root categories.

Somani is now an ambassador for mathematics, promoting the subject and encouraging a love of problem-solving to the next generation go genius kids.

4. Boyan Slat, now 21-years-old


Dutch student Boyan Slat made waves in 2012 with an invention that he claims could clean up to 20 billion tonnes of plastic waste from the world’s oceans. Slat, then 18, came up with the idea of floating structures that move with the ocean’s currents, sucking up plastic waste with booms that will cause no harm to indigenous marine life.

The project gained traction after Slat’s TED talk on the subject – How the Oceans Can Clean Themselves – went viral, and he went on to set up the foundation The Ocean Cleanup. The project team announced that it will deploy the world’s first ocean cleaning system next year, which will become the longest floating structure in world history.

5. Param Jaggi, now 20-years-old


Sticking with genius kids that are trying to save the environment, another youngster helping the cleanup is 20-year-old Param Jaggi, whose been working with energy technology since the age of 13. His first major invention was Algae Mobile, a device that fits to car exhausts and converts carbon dioxide emissions into oxygen. His patent was approved in 2013.

Featured twice in Forbes’ 30 under 30 lists, Jaggi went on to found his own company, EcoViate, with the intention of bringing more of his ideas to life. Jaggi’s personal website says the company hasn’t launched yet, but promises “the story has just begun.”

6. Elise Tan-Roberts, 8-years-old


Elise Tan-Roberts is probably a very clever eight-year-old, considering that at just two she became the youngest members of Mensa, with an IQ of 156. Albert Einstein had an IQ of 160.

Ordinarily you have to be at least 10-years-old to take Mensa’s test, but exceptions can be made with a recommendation. Regardless of what she goes on to to do, Tan Roberts can already claim to have an IQ higher than Sigmund Freud, and for now she’s just trying to enjoy being a kid. Her mum told the Daily Mail, “We don’t want to make her have to dumb down and stop learning just to fit in. But she’s still my baby. I just want her to be happy and enjoy herself.”

7. Richard Turere, 15-years-old


As a 13-year-old, Kenyan Richard Turere was tasked with tending to his father’s cattle. Which doesn’t sounds like such a big ask, until you learn that his home is regularly visited by local rhino, giraffe, buffalo, and, most dangerously to the livestock, lions.

His solution was Lion Lights, a protective fence made of basic materials, but capable of quickly and effectively scaring away prowling lions with a flashing solar-powered light. The invention won Turere a scholarship to the well-regarded Brookhouse school, and he also gave a TED Talk which explains his story in much further detail.

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