Home / Lesson Plans / The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (Malawi)


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Making a good living as a small farmer in Malawi is a difficult task at the best of times, but when the country undergoes severe flooding during planting season that is followed by severe drought during the growing season, it becomes almost impossible. Young William Kamkwamba must leave his school and abandon his formal education because his family can no longer pay the tuition. As the drought and resulting famine continue, his family, like others in Malawi, comes close to starvation. The corrupt government provides no assistance.
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is based on the true story of a brilliant teenager whose creativity, persistence and courage provided a solution for his family and eventually for his village and for many others in his country and beyond. After reading basic books on electricity and wind power borrowed from the local library, he was able to construct a wind turbine from bicycle parts, lumber from local trees, and scrapyard finds. With this wind turbine providing power, he was able to bring underground water to the surface in sufficient quantities to grow a second crop successfully.
Eventually, William was able to continue his education, finishing secondary school and then graduating from Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. He continues to work to bring practical solutions to global problems, including sanitation in India, gender-based violence prevention in Kenya, and digital education to isolated communities worldwide.


Lesson 1: The Environmental Crisis (Environmental Science)
Lesson 2: Wind Power: History and Engineering (Engineering, World History)
Lesson 3: Generating Electricity: Dollar Store Physics (Physics)
Lesson 4: The Character of William Kamkwamba (English Language Arts)
Lesson 5: Film as Literature: Understanding Tone (English Language Arts, Film Studies)
Lesson 6: Helping the Children of Malawi (Economics, Social Studies, Service Learning)


Available on Netflix

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (Malawi)