15-Yr-Old Kelvin Doe Wows M.I.T.

September 25, 2019 0 By Stanley Isaacs


KELVIN DOE: My name is Kelvin Doe, aka DJ
Focus. KELVIN DOE: Alright. Alright. It’s the youngest
DJ. DJ Man Focus. KELVIN DOE: I’m from Sierra Leone, [Music] KELVIN DOE: and I love inventing. [Music] DAVID SENGEH: Kelvin is extraordinarily talented.
He literally goes through trash cans – finds broken electronic parts in the garbage and
makes stuff on his own. LAURA SAMPATH: He’s taught himself how to
do incredibly intricate things with very, very little resources. [Music] KELVIN DOE: In Sierra Leone, we have not too
much electricity. The lights will come on once in a week, and the rest of the month,
dark. So I made my own battery to power lights in people’s houses. [Music] DAVID SENGEH: Kelvin represents “learn by
making.” He takes apart, looks at it, tries to reverse engineer it. KELVIN DOE: I made my own FM radio transmitter.
DAVID SENGEH: He made his own FM station because he wanted to give voice to the youth. He made
his own generator because he needed it. KELVIN DOE: The generator supplies current
to the radio station. This is the capacitor and this is the spark plug. DAVID SENGEH: This trip is his first
time leaving his family’s home. It’s his first time leaving Sierra Leone. And it’s tough.
But it’s an opportunity to create the future that he wants to live in. [Music] DAVID SENGEH: My name is David Sengeh. I’m
from Sierra Leone. I’m a PhD student at the M.I.T. Media Lab where we have unlimited creative
freedom. I wanted to ensure that young people like Kelvin also have this experience. [Music] LAURA SAMPATH: David has written visa letters,
found places for Kelvin to stay – he’s really got invested in him.
DAVID SENGEH: For quite many years, Sierra Leone, and many other African countries, received
aid. But it does not necessarily get us anywhere. We’re not looking into the future. We’re not
designing our own future. Unless we have a host of young people who can think, at any
given point, that here’s a challenge, here’s a problem, and it’s an opportunity to solve
it, there won’t be a steep growth in national development.
KELVIN DOE: If we have a radio station in my community, the people can be able to debate
about issues affecting our community and Sierra Leone as a whole. DAVID SENGEH: I first met Kelvin at Summer
Innovation Camp that I runned in Sierra Leone that challenges kids to think about the toughest
problems in their community and have them solve it. Kelvin’s team applied to build an
FM radio station for community empowerment, and people listened, religiously, to his radio
station. People text into his show and he reads the texts from people. It’s very inspirational. KELVIN DOE: I’m DJ Focus, live broadcasting
all the way New Yor– Um, Boston. KELVIN DOE: [On radio] Live broadcasting all
the way New Yor– Um, Boston. KELVIN DOE: People normally call me DJ Focus
in my community. Because I believe if you focus, you can do an invention perfectly.
I DJ every day. KELVIN DOE: Alright, for sure for the meantime
don’t forget DJ Man Focus passing through. KELVIN DOE: “Sounds Like Gun” by Bobby. [Music] KELVIN DOE: A born Sierra Leonean artist. KELVIN DOE: Your satisfaction is absolutely
guaranteed for your ultimate priority. [Music] DAVID SENGEH: So Kelvin has been in the United
States for the past two weeks. I line up a pretty busy schedule for him. First we went
to New York. The next day we went to Cambridge. Next week we have a talk with the president
of Harvard University. KELVIN DOE: It’s a big opportunity for me
to learn from people who have experience and to meet with them.
MARK FELDMEIER: How do you want the antenna? KELVIN DOE: Like this.
MARK FELDMEIER: Like that? KELVIN DOE: Yeah. MARK FELDMEIER: Kelvin had these RF transmitters
that he had made, and we spent yesterday, kind of, trying to figure out how we might
be able to make some improvements. [Drilling] MARK FELDMEIER: Alright. Hopefully that’s
big enough. CAMERA GUY: Have you ever used a drill like
that before? KELVIN DOE: No.
MARK FELDMEIER: Be careful with it. KELVIN DOE: Yeah. KELVIN DOE: We’ll use this as the power cable.
MARK FELDMEIER: Okay. KELVIN DOE: This was a microphone wire converted
to a power output. I got the cable from the dustbin.
MARK FELDMEIER: Let’s give it some audio. MARK FELDMEIER: Cool. MARK FELDMEIER: We kinda get trapped in our
own little worlds, and just as Kelvin’s getting his world expanded by coming here, so am I
getting my world expanded by interacting with him. MARK FELDMEIER: Good working with you dude.
KELVIN DOE: Yeah. DAVID SENGEH: He loves to work hard, but he’s
a kid. He’s 15. After while, he also just want to play ping pong. He also just want
to play football. DAVID SENGEH: Oh! Come on! DAVID SENGEH: I talk to him, I say, “Look,
Kelvin, think of me as your older brother.” Alright. I’m tired. “Tell me what’s going
on. Tell me what’s tough to you.” It’s his first time leaving Sierra Leone, so it’s,
it’s overwhelming. KELVIN DOE: It’s just that – I miss Sierra
Leone. DAVID SENGEH: In Sierra Leone, if you meet
somebody head to head, you have to say “hi.” You acknowledge them and smile. Here, when
he gets on the train, he says “hi” to people. Nobody recognizes it. KELVIN DOE: And also, I don’t love the food
in America. DAVID SENGEH: We’re here to eat some Sierra
Leonean, Kelvin loves so it’s gonna be awesome. DAVID SENGEH: What are you gonna get, Kelvin?
KELVIN DOE: Cassava leaves. DAVID SENGEH: Cassava leaves. Let’s see if
they have some. DAVID SENGEH: How are you, Auntie?
RESTAURANT OWNER: Normal day, Mr. David [Laughs.] RESTAURANT OWNER: I have beans, okra, cassava
leaves. KELVIN DOE: Give me beans.
RESTAURANT OWNER: Okay. [Laughs.] KELVIN DOE: Thank you. DAVID SENGEH: You want to try my plantain?
Take it. DAVID SENGEH: He misses home a lot.
KELVIN DOE: I miss my family so much, especially my mother.
KELVIN DOE: [On phone] Hello? KELVIN DOE: My mother, she was so excited
because people said good comments about me. DAVID SENGEH: Hello?
KELVIN DOE: I want to help my family to provide the facility for them. [Music] KELVIN DOE: Just to help my family. Yeah. [Music] KELVIN DOE: [On phone] Okay, bye. DAVID SENGEH: For Kelvin, his biggest challenge
is going to be the scarcity of the materials and the information once he goes back. Here
he can go in and pick up a resistor or whatever he wants. He now understands that there are
many people who don’t have to go through the garbage, so he has to go back. KELVIN DOE: Whatever things I’ve learned here,
I will share it with my friends, colleagues, and loved ones and do it as a team. DAVID SENGEH: He’s done an amazing work. But
that’s just the beginning. KELVIN DOE: My next invention will be a windmill
for people to use for electricity supply. DAVID SENGEH: I want there to be many more
Kelvins. I do not want it to be a one-off thing. It’s a movement. It’s, how do we create
thousands of young people who are inspired by making stuff and solving the problems that
are in their neighborhood? KELVIN DOE: That is my aim. To promote innovation
in Sierra Leone among young people. [Laughs.] DAVID SENGEH: Hi everyone. This is David.
Thanks so much for watching and we hope you enjoyed the video. The folks at THNKR and
I wanted to share Kelvin’s story in the hopes of starting the conversation about how we
can all foster innovation amongst young people around the world. We are asking you to do
2 things. First, submit comments and response videos below telling us how you think we can
promote innovation among young people in your community. Second, if you are inspired by
what you just saw, support the non-profit organization I have founded by visiting crowdrise.com/innovatesalone.
Your donations will go directly to more innovation competitions that support other young innovators
like Kelvin. And if you want to see more inspiring videos like this one, subscribe for free to
THNKR by clicking the “Subscribe” button. Thanks very much. KELVIN DOE: I’m DJ Focus and you’re watching
PRODIGIES.