“I’m really interested in harvesting surplus energy, energy that surrounds but we never really use.” That is what led 15-year-old Ann Makosinski, a tenth grader from Victoria, British Columbia, to invent a hollow LED flashlight that is power entirely by the heat of the human hand… no moving parts, no batteries required.
This 2 minute video was her submission for the 2013 Google Science Fair, an online science competition open to students ages 13-18 from around the globe that is focused on ideas that will change the world. It, along with her supporting project summary, are what helped Ann beat out thousands of global entrants to become 1 of only 15 students to earn a coveted spot as a finalist.
The flashlight you see in the video is one of two working prototypes Ann successfully designed… one from an aluminum tube and the other from PVC tubing she picked up at Home Depot. Both prototypes use slightly different Peltier tiles (purchased on Ebay), devices Ann first used for a 7th grade science fair project that produce electricity when heated on one side and cooled on the other.
“I’m really interested in harvesting surplus energy, energy that surrounds but we never really use.”
These tiles coupled with Ann’s conclusive calculations that the amount of energy produced by the warmth from a human hand was theoretically sufficient to power an LED bright enough to use in a flashlight brought her idea to light, so to speak. Note: Apparently, we are all “like walking 100 Watt light bulbs”, as Ann explains in her Google Science Fair project summary.
Success took Ann months of research, experimenting, and navigating road blocks… at one point she even thought what she set out to do might never work. But she kept going and look where her perseverance has gotten her.
She, along with the other Final 15 members, will visit the Google campus in Mountain View, California, this September for the prize ceremony. Winners will be chosen in three age categories, and one will receive the grand prize, which includes a $50,000 scholarship from Google and a trip to the Galapagos Islands.
Ann told CBC News in Canada that neither of her parents have a post-secondary science education, but they have encouraged her passion for science. She considers Nikola Tesla and Marie Curie as her inspirational role models.
So if you’ve ever wondered, “Am I smarter than a 10th grader?”, we think you know that answer is a big, fat, resounding “NO”, when that 10th grader is young Woman You Should Know Ann Makosinski. But we can promise you that YOU WILL BE SMARTER (hello… Peltier tiles, thermoelectricity), after you watch Ann’s video. We also know her future will be beyond bright.
Read all about Ann and her illuminating invention in full detail here.