The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

SSSAS Resource Guide

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is a remarkable and moving story of innovation, optimism, and resilience by William Kamkwamba. Living in drought-stricken Malawi and faced with famine, William was determined to find a way to bring electricity and water to his village. With a large dose of optimism, combined with true grit and persistence, William built a windmill from recycled materials to generate electricity.

The St. Stephen's & St. Agnes School community was honored to host and meet Mr. Kamkwamba on September 16, 2017. All of our students, faculty, and staff from JK through 12th grade were inspired by Mr. Kamkwamba's story and came together to collaborate and tinker during our Innovation Celebration. Our goal is to continue to celebrate Mr. Kawkwamba's accomplishments throughout the 2016-2017 school year; we hope that the these resources serve as a guide for continued discussion and integration into the curriculum.

William Kamkwamba: How I built a windmill
Moving Windmills: The William Kamkwamba story

Discussion & Readers Response Questions

  • Could you imagine living without electricity, telephones, and other modern conveniences such as refrigeration? What would your life be like?
  • Have you ever encountered a problem that you did not know how to solve? What did you do?
  • What is drought? How do drought conditions impact access to water, food and other necessities?
  • Describe William's life and compare it to your own.

  • William was described by villagers and his family as misala (crazy). How would you feel if someone called you crazy?

  • How does William face his challenges and find ways to solve his problems? What resources and materials does he have access to accomplish his goals?

  • How did having electricity change the life of William’s family and his village?

  • What motivates people like William to attempt the unthinkable?

  • Think about William’s school and schooling options, and compare it to American schools. Might William's life be different if he had access to education without having to pay? How so?

  • What lessons did you take away from William's story?

  • Compare and contrast the lives, challenges, and contributions of William with Wangari Maathai in The Seeds of Change.

Contact Information & Sources

This reading guide was prepared by Julie Esanu (Lower School Librarian) & Erin Lee (4th Grade Teacher). Sources include the RIF Guide for Community Coordinators and the HarperCollins’ Reading Guide for The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind.

St. Stephen's & St. Agnes School

Alexandria, VA

September 2016