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STEM Movie Spotlight: The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

By: Rital Miller & Joslyn Stamp

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind directed by Chiwetel Ejiofor follows the true story of a young Malawian boy named William Kamkwamba. To save his village from famine, William built a wind turbine to give electricity to the entire community out of a bicycle and other scrap parts. Even when his family can no longer afford his schooling fees, William continues to drive his curiosity to seek knowledge. William discovered a book in his local library which inspired him to harness wind energy to pump water and irrigate the crops in his village.

     This movie weaves elements of STEM throughout its storyline showcasing Williams's fascination with science and determination to use it for his community. One example is when William learned about electricity in school and applied the knowledge to construct a wind turbine. His ingenuity highlights the importance of STEM education within the smallest of communities since it can empower the new generations to innovate solutions for problems their families face. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind also portrays SEL aspects exploring themes of empathy as William navigates through his relationships within his community. William demonstrates resilience when his family, like his father, faces the harsh realities of drought and poverty. With a bad harvest, Trywell, William’s father, struggles to afford William’s school fees amidst a failed harvest. His father had a more traditional survival method and thought Williams's scientific aspirations in school would only bring financial strain to his family.

     The film promotes many STEM fields that relate to Williams's journey. William’s passion for science and engineering emphasizes the potential for individuals to pursue careers in these areas to drive innovation within their communities. One job might include a community development worker, who is tasked with identifying community concerns and developing sustainable solutions. This career is especially apparent in nonprofit organizations that focus on international development in less developed countries. 

     I recommend this movie to audiences of all ages especially younger kids around the ages of 8-12 to show that all minds are valuable within communities and that passions can make a big impact when you persevere and pursue them. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind delivered a compelling narrative of resilience and hope reminding audiences that the power of education, innovation, and community help overcome adversity and shape bright futures.

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