Jessica O. Matthews co-invented the sOccket, and founded Uncharted Play with Julia Silverman.

By Nusha Balyan (Writer, The Story Exchange)

The sOccket looks like a regular soccer ball, but it doubles as an energy-harvesting source that can help light up communities without access to electricity.

Jessica O. Matthews and Julia Silverman, who are in their early 20s, came up with the idea for the sOccket while working on a class project during their junior year at Harvard. They were taking an engineering class for non-engineering majors and were tasked with addressing a social issue through art and science.

Both had travelled extensively through Africa – Matthews is Nigerian-American – and knew that soccer was a hugely popular sport. They also noticed that African children made soccer balls out of just about anything, including discarded plastic bags.

“We wanted to create a product that would change their lives,” says Matthews. In Africa, limited access to electricity leads to the use of fume-emitting kerosene lamps that are expensive to fuel and harmful to the health (The fumes the children inhale from these lamps are the equivalent of smoking two packs of cigarettes a day.)

» Read the full article at The Story Exchange.