Think about all the accomplishments you've attained in your life –
things like getting a college degree, buying a first home, landing the
perfect job, or successfully modding your own supercomputer. Hold on to
those thoughts tightly, because one teenage girl is about to make you
feel like a complete underachiever.
At the age of 15, Ann Makosinski of Victoria, British Columbia is one of the 15 finalists for this year's Google Science Fair
competition. Her project: A modded flashlight powered by the heat
produced within the holder's palms. Since the sixth grade, Makosinski
says she has been interested in alternative energy and wanted to figure
out a way to generate power from a source that'll last as long as humans
live. Her research brought her to the concept of Peltier tiles, which
produces energy when one side of the tile is heated and the other side
is cooled. To get the tiles to create more voltage, Makosinski spent
years reworking the circuit until it provided enough power to light an
"This took quite awhile 'cause I had to do it during the school year
as well and I had homework, plays, whatever that I was also doing," she
told CBC News. Her
speech still hints of adolescence. "You just kind of have to keep
going." Despite her parents' lack of post-secondary science education,
they've always encouraged Ann to pursue her passion for the subject. In
fact, her father helped her order various Peltier tiles off eBay so she
could continue her experiments.
In the end, the working prototype is an aluminum tube and PVC tube,
both working together so that the hollows would allow air to cool one
side of the Peltier tile while the user's hand transfers heat to the
other. In her tests, Makosinski found that the flashlight worked better
at 10 degrees Celcius because it allowed the cooler air to circulate,
generating more power. But even at 5 degrees Celcius, the light
maintained a steady glow for more than 20 minutes.
Makosinski will be traveling to Mountain View, CA to present her
project to Google this September. If she wins the grand prize, she'll
walk away with $50,000 and a trip to the Galapagos Islands. With
the production cost per flashlight at approximately $26, Makosinski will
be able to make lots of devices if she wins – and one would imagine
economy of scale should make mass production even cheaper for customers.
Watch the young scientist explain her project in the video here.
This article was originally posted on Digital Trends