And the future’s in good hands
AT the age of 11, Michael Zhang has already jetted off to Paris to present his latest inventions – to an audience which included Spain’s Queen Sofia.
The Year 6 student attended the annual Global Social Business Summit 2017 after winning the National Prize for Social Entrepreneurial Inventions at the Royal Adelaide Show.
At the summit Michael presented two inventions – a Wi-Fi fish feeder designed by him and a simple electronic trap for grasshoppers (the Locust Feast design) where he led a team of peers.
But it was his moving speech on why he designs inventions which stole the limelight from all the VIPs who attended and earned the East Marden Primary School student a kiss from Queen Sofia.
The electronic trap for grasshoppers has been accepted as a major initiative for impoverished young people in Cameroon, Africa, and Michael described how their lives have changed from earning $2 a day picking cocoa fruits to coding microchips.
“Sadly the children are so poor they have never tasted chocolate,’’ he told the audience. “We teach them (coding) using Skype or Facetime. They earn more money from making and selling the (electronic) kits so that they don’t need to work in the cocoa farm. They can go to school and learn more STEM invention skills.’’ The Felixstow youngster who has attended the Science Technology Engineering Maths Social Enterprise Learning (STEMSEL) inventors’ club since the age of eight, says the idea stemmed from learning about agricultural problems at school.
“My friends in Cameroon told us that locusts were a major problem and damaging the crops,’’ he told the Sunday Mail. “I decided it would be a good idea to build a device to help farmers in Cameroon protect their crops from locusts.
“I selected my team of four (classmates) and their names are Daniel Lee, Sophie Halikiopoulos, Victor Chey and myself as team leader and designer.’’
His enthusiasm for electronics and inventions has encouraged other students to have a go and a STEMSEL club was started at the school this year.
“I’ve made the Wi-Fi Fish Feeder, which helps to feed your fish when you go on holiday,’’ he says. “My other inventions are the Care on the Go Wristbell, which helps nursing home residents to detect body temperatures to keep them safe. All the projects we do at STEMSEL are related to the aim of helping the poor to make money so that they get an education.’’
MY ROYAL APPOINTMENT: SA schoolboy Michael Zhang discusses his invention with ambassador Brendan Berne in the Australian Embassy, Paris, above, and meets Queen Sofia, inset below.