This warm hearted girl has reinvented coal irons6 min readReading Time: 4 minutes
At the beginning of the year, Owliver had the pleasure of speaking to Vinisha Umashankar about her magnificent ideas and inventions. Now, in light of her latest achievements and inspiring speech at the COP26 conference to the leaders of the world, we have decided to share her wonderful thoughts with you once again. Enjoy and be sure to be inspired!
Meet Vinisha Umashankar, the 14-year-old with a zest for life. Vinisha has won more awards than one can count, and yet her humility is unmistakable. Even though Owliver spoke to Vinisha about her latest invention, she is by no means only an inventor. Vinisha is a gymnast, a dancer, a pancake maker, an artist and even a keyboard player. In her own words, she “like[s] everything”. That’s right, Vinisha makes sure that she enjoys whatever she does.
So get ready to not only find out about Vinisha’s remarkable inventions but go also on a philosophical journey with her.
What did Vinisha invent?
Although Vinisha is constantly inventing and reinventing, her most recent invention is what she calls a Solar ironing cart. This remarkable invention is not only climate positive but also benefits the working-class men and women who press clothes for a living. Vinisha looked at the many ironing carts in her town, Thiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu, and was aghast that they still used coal to power their irons. Not only is this terrible for the environment as it causes pollution and extensive deforestation, but it is also bad for the health of those that use it. As they ironed in the scorching heat of the summer, Vinisha wondered why no one had harnessed the power of the abundant Sun.
“There is so much sunlight, why hasn’t anyone come up with the idea to replace charcoal with solar energy”Vinisha Umashankar
So, she decided “why wait?” Vinisha did some research and realised that these ancient ironing techniques had not evolved for over 300 years. People were still using victorian era techniques to iron their clothes!“That’s a long time for no one to do nothing about it”, Vinisha exclaimed.
Vinisha insists that her invention is so simple that people have continuously overlooked it. She designed an ironing cart with a solar panelled roof. The solar panels power the iron. Even when there is no Sunlight available, there is a battery installed in the cart as a power back-up. And it really is just that simple!
“When I was 12 years old, I noticed the ironing men using charcoal and I decided why do they need to use charcoal when there is an abundance of sunlight source in India. So, I developed the solar ironing cart, and its main aim is to eliminate the usage of charcoal to prevent deforestation.”Vinisha Umashankar
Watch Vinisha take you through the invention that won her the children’s climate prize.
What is her most remarkable award?
Vinisha has won several awards including the international children’s climate prize and the prestigious ignite award from President Abdul Kalam. But while Vinisha is grateful for winning these all of prizes, they didn’t exactly catch her by surprise.
An award that really surprised Vinisha was one that she received for an entirely different invention. Listen to Vinisha talk about her invention and award here:
What inspired her?
Vinisha first became interested in Climate Change at around the age of 8. She was already interested in science and an avid reader, but when she read about climate change and the environment, she was instantly gripped. When she wasn’t in school, she would spend a lot of time reading articles, papers and books on climate change. By the age of 12, she had noticed the ironing cart and thus began her most recent venture.
Vinisha would like to emphasise that while she does focus on climate change, she works to create inventions that are afforded for underprivileged people. She hopes that once her inventions are produced at a large scale, they will come of us for many.
What does she do to unwind?
Vinisha is about to enter the tenth standard and she feels the pressure of her looming board exams. But when she wants to let off steam, she simply puts on some pop music and grooves to it.
What comes next?
It goes without saying that whatever Vinisha enjoys comes next. She will definitely continue to innovate for society and the environment and refine her older inventions. She is already But most importantly Vinisha will have fun with whatever she does.
Vinisha’s has a message for everyone looking to start something new
Talking to Vinisha was a pleasure and a learning experience. She definitely got Owliver thinking and questioning things. Did she have the same impact on you? Let us know in the comments below.
Vinisha got Owliver thinking:
How many problems do we see every day that require nothing more than a simple solution?
Do we make sure that we first enjoy what we do, before getting wrapped up in the rewards we may reap once we’re done?
(Trailblazers is a weekly column that celebrates youngsters who are inventors and experts in their fields)