VOA Learning English

Teenage ‘Newton’ Builds Electric Device to Light Gaza Tent

VOA Learning English • voa
Feb. 10, 2024 4 minSource

A 15-year-old boy in Gaza was able to build a device to provide electricity to light the tent he is staying in with his family.

Hussam Al-Attar got two fans at a resale market and used them to create small wind turbines to produce electricity. His invention led others in the camp where he stays to start calling him the “Newton” of Gaza.

This comparison involves the English scientist, Isaac Newton. Newton is known for his major scientific discoveries in the fields of physics, mathematics and astronomy more than 300 years ago. A famous story about Newton describes how an apple falling on his head led him to discover the nature of gravity.

"Newton was sitting under an apple tree when an apple fell on his head and he discovered gravity,” Al-Attar told Reuters news agency. “And we here are living in darkness and tragedy , and rockets are falling on us, therefore I thought of creating light, and did so," he added.

Al-Attar is staying with his family in a tent in Rafah, a city on the southern edge of the Gaza Strip, near the border with Egypt. Reuters reported that Rafah currently holds more than half of Gaza’s total population of 2.3 million people.

Large numbers of people fled to the area from other parts of Gaza to escape fighting between Israeli forces and Hamas fighters. The fighting has been ongoing since Hamas militants invaded southern Israel from Gaza on October 7. Israeli officials say the invasion left 1,200 people dead and 253 kidnapped.

Israel immediately began a large military campaign to answer the actions of Hamas. Israeli military officials have said their goal is to crush the Palestinian Islamist group. Local health officials in Gaza say the fighting has killed more than 27,000 people across the territory and caused displacement and hunger.

Al-Attar and his family are staying in a tent that is partly attached to a house. He was able to climb onto the roof to set up two fans, one above the other. The wind can turn the fans, which produce small amounts of electricity. He then connected the fans to wires and built a charging station. Al-Attar also built switches to control a lighting system made out of wood.

He said his first two attempts failed and it took him a while to develop a working system. "I started developing it further, bit by bit, until I was able to extend the wires through the room to the tent that we are living in, so that the tent will have light."

Al-Attar added that he was happy to be able to create something to help “ease the suffering” of his family members. He said he is looking forward to the future when conditions can improve in Gaza.

"I am very happy that people in this camp call me Gaza's Newton,” Al-Attar said. He added, “Because I hope to achieve my dream of becoming a scientist like Newton and creating an invention that will benefit not only the people of the Gaza Strip, but the whole world."

I’m Bryan Lynn.

Reuters reported this story. Bryan Lynn adapted the report for VOA Learning English.

Words in This Story

tent – n. a structure made of metal poles and cloth that is used to provide protection for people camping outdoors

turbine – n. a large machine that produces power by using gas, steam, wind, etc.

tragedy – n. an event or situation that is very sad, often involving death

roof – n. the surface that covers and protects the top of a building or vehicle

charge –v. to put electricity into a device that holds electrical charge called a battery

switch –n. a device that permits or cuts electrical current in a circuit

achieve – v. to succeed in doing something good, usually by working hard

benefit – v. to be helped by something


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