What a British teenager can teach us about the transformative power of sharing and social media

I’ve written numerous times about the power that social media and sharing can have in transforming a student’s educational path in a positive way. My thinking on this subject hasn’t formed in a vacuum. It’s easy to find these forces in action in the real world.

Case in point…

This young Briton, who goes by “Harv” to his international audience of over 110,000 subscribers, has become an unlikely rising star in the world of science and technology.

Harv recently turned seventeen, but he has been creating entertaining and educational videos about topics in physics and astronomy since he was fourteen years old. These topics are often presented through the lens of Kerbal Space Program. Harv’s deep, velvety voice is perfect for YouTube narration, and it belies his high-school age. “The deep British voice gives people an image of someone much older, it seems,” Harv has admitted. “So, likely under the illusion that they’ve been listening to [an adult], my YouTube channel has grown phenomenally.”

Harv’s willingness to share his passions with a public audience has yielded clear benefits for him in terms of providing academic opportunities, yielding professional contacts, and reinforcing the strength of his own intrinsic motivation.

Using experimental-stage hardware such as the Oculus Rift DK2 and the Leap Motion, Harv is currently developing a motion-controlled virtual reality puzzle game for a school project. Harv doesn’t view this as work; rather, he remarks on how fortunate he is to receive credit for pursuing his passion for VR. “I get to justify spending my time doing VR development when most of [my peers] are doing schoolwork,” he gushes. “It’s fantastic.”

Science, technology, and VR aren’t his only passions, though. Despite his young age, Harv has leveraged the power of his audience to organize and execute two wildly successful fundraising events for Charity Water: Kerbal Polar Expedition at the age of fifteen ($10,723 raised) and Kerbal Polar Expedition 2 at the age of sixteen ($23,624 raised). He’s even picked up occasional voice-acting work through his dense web of contacts– not a bad after-school job for a teenager!

Harv recently shared his ambition to apply for admission to Cambridge University. It sounds like he has his academic life in order, and given his already-incredible record of international educational and charity outreach, I think Cambridge would be foolish to turn him away.

Best of luck, Harv!