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10 Uplifting Stories of Ingenuity Around the World

These amazing people have taken DIYing to the next, next level!

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Quirky China News/REX/Shutterstock

Yang Zongfu

Yang Zongfu created what’s been dubbed “Noah’s Ark,” a survival pod designed to withstand all kinds of emergencies. Yang spent two years making his own survival pod. He said it could withstand temperatures of nearly 3,100 degrees Fahrenheit and impact forces of 350 tons. He also tested it by rolling it down a hill. Yang claims that a family of three could live inside one safely for 10 months. The pod is also waterproof and protected against radiation. The pod kind of reminds us of 28 houses that look like UFOs.

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African Bodybuilders

Some bodybuilders in parts of Africa have taken scrap metal and transformed it into weightlifting equipment. It goes to show it doesn’t matter what kind of gym you’ve got, you can get results if you’re driven. Want to set up a home gym? Then follow some of these awesome home gym ideas.

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Cabana Floripa

Down in Florianopolis, Brazil, you’ll find one of the most stunning houses constructed with a massive amount of recycled glass bottles arranged in several innovative ways.

Begin some glass bottle work of your own by seeing how to use a glass bottle cutter.

Photo: Courtesy of Airbnb

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Zhang Wuyi

Zhang Wuyi has built submarines since 2008 and this one was created to harvest sea cucumbers. Zhang has just a high school education and used to work in a weaving factory near Wuhan, capital of central China’s Hubei Province, until he got laid off. He’s built dozens of submarines, which he has sold to farmers and water theme parks.

It’s not a submarine, but pool noodle uses run deep.

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Luiz Rampelotto/REX/Shutterstock

Gitanjali Rao

One of the most brilliant heroes to come out of the woodwork as a result of the Flint, Michigan, water crisis is 11-year-old Gitanjali Rao, who invented a device that can detect lead in drinking water—and she did it as part of her science fair project. She’d been keeping tabs on the town’s progress and watching her parents test their own water and shaking her head, as it were—there had to be better methods out there. No? Alright, well, then she’d invent one. Her three-part device could be the next big thing in water purification, and help keep thousands healthy. Read more about how it works on NPR. Find out how to tell if your tap water is safe and find the best water filter on the market.

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Vincent Thian/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Zhang Yongqing

Zhang Yongqing created a combination of a wheelchair and a foldable bicycle in Beijing. He said invented the bicycle so that caregivers can take better care of wheelchair-bound elderly people. Check out a solar-powered scooter that will astonish you.

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Jacquelyn Martin/AP/Shutterstock

Hannah Herbst

When Hannah Herbst was in seventh grade, she found out her Ethiopian pen pal, Ruth, was living in energy poverty with minimal access to electricity: lights, medical supplies, or even sewage control systems. “I realized the environment was important at a very young age. I have always been curious, and as a child, I preferred ‘rock hunts’ to dollhouses, which sparked my first interest in learning about the environment,” she told TeenVogue. So she created an ocean energy probe, called BEACON, or Bringing Electricity Access to Countries through Ocean Energy, which converts the kinetic movement of current energy from any moving body of water into a source of useable electricity. It’s made from 90 percent recycled materials easily found throughout the world, including 2-liter plastic soda bottles and recycled spoons. Hannah envisions BEACON being used in developing countries to power desalination pumps for fresh water, run centrifuges to test blood with, and power electric buoys for maritime navigation. She is currently working on tweaking the final iteration of BEACON, and is in the process of open-sourcing her prototypes so that others around the world can replicate her creation, both for combating energy poverty in developing nations as well as to encourage STEM education in classrooms worldwide. Try these tips to get your kids into DIY work.

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Wu Yulu

Robot Inventor Wu Yulu created a robot to pull a rickshaw in rural Beijing. Wu has created more than 60 robots in 30 years. Wu only attended primary school and has planned to pursue making robots full-time. Get a glimpse at these 19 incredibly awesome DIY robot creations.

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Annika Viswesh

Eighth-grade student Annika Viswesh, who attends the Stratford School in Sunnyvale, California, became legally blind when she was just one year old due to a condition known as amblyopia. Various procedures have helped to improve her sight over the years, but more than anything it was that very experience that pushed her to search for better ways to treat and manage the condition, which affects about 12 million children worldwide. So, she created the Oculus Patch Assistant which helps to simplify and improve the effectiveness of amblyopia treatment by using a smart sensor, a smartphone application, and predictive machine learning algorithms. As eye patches are a common treatment for amblyopia, Annika’s model could actually cut patch-wearing by 100 to 200 hours per year. She is currently working with doctors at the Palo Alto Foundation to conduct field testing.

Photo: Courtesy of Annika Viswesh

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Ursula Dueren/Epa/Shutterstock

William Kamkwamba

William Kamkwamba (on the left) and Bryan Mealer (on the right) received the Corine 2010 Focus Future Prize for the book, The Boy who Caught the Wind. Kamkwamba built a wind turbine out of a tree, bicycle parts and scrap metal to power appliances in his family’s home in Malawi. He later built a solar-powered water pump. Kamkwamba had to drop out of school because his family could afford the tuition but he continued to visit the village library where he later read Using Energy where he learned how to make the wind turbine.

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