Teen Innovators

Nine Young People Engineering a Better World with Creative Inventions

  • Interest Level: Grade 5 - Grade 9
  • Reading Level: Grade 6

Teen Innovators tells the stories of discovery and the inventions of nine young students.

For example, twelve-year-old Gitanjali Rao, appalled by the tragedy in Flint, Michigan, found a cheaper, more effective way to test for lead in drinking water. Four undocumented teenagers from an underfunded high school in Phoenix built an underwater robot from spare and found parts. Substituting hard work and creative thinking for money and expensive equipment, they won a national robotics competition, beating a well-funded team from MIT. At fifteen, William Kamkwamba used materials from junkyards near his home in Malawai to build a windmill to generate electricity and pump water for his village.

While each profile tells a different story, the reader soon sees the common threads of determination and ingenuity. Stories include:

  • Jack Andraka: improved pancreatic cancer test
  • Gitanjali Rao: device to detect lead in drinking water
  • William Kamkwamba: improvised electrical generator using windmill in Malawi
  • Austen Veseliza: digital display glove to aid people with speech impairment
  • Deepika Kurup: easier, cheaper method to remove toxins from drinking water
  • Cristian Arcega, Lorenzo Santillan, Oscar Vasquez, Luis Aranda: underwater robot
Science educator and professor Fred Estes explores the motivation, challenges, and lives of these teen scientists and explains the science behind each invention simply and clearly. Readers will see how the science they study today in school relates to these important discoveries.

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Interest Level Grade 5 - Grade 9
Reading Level Grade 6
Genre Science, Young Adult
Category 5 Kinds of Nonfiction, 5KN: Narrative Nonfiction, SEL: C Social Awareness, SEL: E Responsible Decision-Making, Social Emotional Learning, STEM, STEM: Engineering
Copyright 2022
Publisher Lerner Publishing Group
Imprint Zest Books ™
Language English
Number of Pages 208
Publication Date 2022-09-06
Text Type Narrative Nonfiction
BISACS YAN006110, YAN058000, YAN055040
Dewey 609.2
Dimensions 6 x 9
Lexile 990
Guided Reading Level TBD
Features Bibliography/further reading, Index, Primary source quotations/images, Reviewed, Source notes, Table of contents, and Teaching Guides

Author: Fred Estes

Fred Estes taught science for nearly two decades in a school near his home in San Francisco. He's written several articles about science teaching, including "Compost: The Rot Thing for Our Earth" and he is a peer reviewer for a National Science Teaching Association journal. Before that, he taught high school English, worked as a financial analyst, joined an AI startup, developed corporate training programs, and earned a doctorate in educational psychology and technology. Currently, he teaches graduate students and teachers about design thinking, innovation, creative teaching methods, and hands-on-STEM curriculum.

Lerner eSource™ offers free digital teaching and learning resources, including Common Core State Standards (CCSS) teaching guides. These guides, created by classroom teachers, offer short lessons and writing exercises that give students specific instruction and practice using Common Core skills and strategies. Lerner eSource also provides additional resources including online activities, downloadable/printable graphic organizers, and additional educational materials that would also support Common Core instruction. Download, share, pin, print, and save as many of these free resources as you like!

Teen Innovators

Teen Innovators tells the stories of discovery and the inventions of nine young students. For example, twelve-year-old Gitanjali Rao, appalled by the tragedy in Flint, Michigan, found a cheaper, more effective way to test for lead in drinking water. Four… View available downloads →

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Teen Innovators: An Interview with Author Fred Estes

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Kirkus Reviews

“The rich variety of individuals and projects highlighted will encourage budding scientists. A compelling read for teens interested in the STEM fields and an inspirational resource for science classrooms.”—Kirkus Reviews

David Kelley

“While all faced challenges, these teens forged ahead toward their visions with creative confidence. Design thinking and other creative problem-solving skills may help you, too, unleash your own inspiration. Fred’s book does a great job of getting you started on your journey.” –David Kelley, founder of Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford and IDEO, co-author of Creative Confidence