They Used Their Imaginations To Fight Fires In This Country

Wildfire in forest
November 27, 2022

In 2018, Trevor Simelane, 16, and Joseph Mdluli, 17, watched in horror as a bank fire took the lives of three firefighters in Johannesburg, South Africa. This sparked an idea to create a fire-fighting robot.

Determined to protect others from such a tragic fate, the duo built a robot prototype that could fight fires from a safe distance. They wanted to improve life in their country.

They entered their invention into the HIP2B² 3M Innovation Challenge, a competition for young people to solve major issues within their communities using science, technology, and math. 

The robot took home the top prize thanks to a design that wowed the judges, an ingenious body similar to a toy car and a remote made from a cardboard box.

“The robot is meant to detect people in [a burning] building and extinguish fires. It uses dry powder and wet chemicals to stop the fire instead of water,” Simelane explained. It helps extinguish out-of-control fires by transforming smoke into carbon dioxide.

Let’s continue to engage the creative imaginations of Black children by giving them the creative space to find solutions to real problems. Trust, this won’t be the last time that Black creativity saves lives.

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