When Ryan Stackpole
was a high school freshman, he and his friends got into building their own computers. “We wanted to do it to play video games, but my parents pushed me to find a more constructive outlet,” says Stackpole, now a senior in Greenwich, Connecticut. Upon learning of the One Laptop Per Child initiative to equip children throughout the developing world with laptops, he thought, “This is great, but a desktop is less likely to be stolen, and is cheaper and easier to repair.” Stackpole also figured that if kids learned how to build desktops themselves, they’d gain a valuable life skill. He brought his idea to a school advisor, and before long, found himself en route to a Kenyan orphanage, 500 pounds of computer parts in tow. Stackpole has since founded TechCorps: Geeks for Good and trained more than 300 students to build 100 computers, and is now using his prize winnings to implement a self-sustaining, 300-chicken farm at the orphanage. “These kids weren’t getting enough nutrition—protein, specifically—and it’s hard to learn on an empty stomach,” he says. So, he launched an independent study, through which classmates stateside help develop sustainable farming strategies and work with Kenyan pen pals to implement them.