Catalyzing the growth of the Kenya tech community

The Age of the Whiz Kids

By Evans Campbell
iHub Consulting
  Published 25 Jul 2014
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The Age of the Whiz Kids

"I didn't even know my phone could do that!"

Well, news flash, your 4 year-old daughter/niece/sister/aunt knew it could. In addition, they mysteriously - at least to you - managed to bypass your pattern/passcode lock. You're amazed, are you not? Well, I'm letting you know you probably shouldn't be. Everything is perfectly fine. This is the age of the whiz kids, the prodigies. It is the time for the precocious - as many a novel and well-written tale would describe such amazing capability.

 

About 2 years ago, Shravan and Sanjay Kumaran took the tech world by storm. At ages 12 and 10 respectively, they had become the youngest company President and CEO combo in the history of India. They were hailed as brilliant young men who were speaking in front of crowds with an average age probably twicetheir own. It was a spectacle to behold as the two boys from Chennai spoke about their company GoDimensions, their inspiration Steve Jobs and their programming beginnings. With over 30,000 downloads of their apps, from over 20 countries around the world, these kids were achieving dreamsmany Lupita Nyong'o-inspired developers still hold valid.

 

rsz_shravan_&_sanjay

(Shravan and Sanjay Kumaran viahttp://blogs.welingkar.org/)

14 year-old Richard Turere became famous last year for his invention of a predator deterrent based on a solar-powered flashlight bulb. He adapted to the challenges he faced as a herder of his father's treasured cattle and found a way to keep both the lions that caused him problems and the herd safe. A few months later, he was telling the world about his revolutionary solution, and how he almost gotkilledby his mother for tearing apart her new radio. He escaped a "near-death experience" and became an inventor. Such drama is a natural part of the journeys the whiz kids of this world embark on in pursuing their curiosity.

 

In March 2013, Nick D'Aloisio, an Australian-born, British teenager sold his app Summly to Yahoo for $30 million. In his statement to the Telegraph prior to the app's launch in November 2012, he explains his enabling circumstances with a powerful statement:

 

"I’m described as a net native, so I was born when the internet was founded and have only known a world with internet."

 

Bringing the narrative backhomeat the iHub, the Kids' Hacker Camp has shed light on the immense potential of our own children. They are brilliant, driven and most importantly, insatiably curious. Being a net native makes for a different kind of process growing up. That is why these young boys and girls know how to unlock your phone, surprising you with the ease with which they navigate to your gallery/email/hidden apps. Remember when you were a child yourself and you felt, as Richard did, that you coulddismantle and reconstruct the HiFi speaker in the living room? Well, now the kids of today have your phone, laptop, smart TV, decoder and a myriad of other devices to figure out. Let them have their way, encourage them toembrace their inquisitive nature.

 

It is time we all accept and welcome the age of the whiz kids. In case you're wondering how to do that with your own, here's a good place to start.

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