Ann Makosinki, a high school student from Victoria, B.C., went all the way to the Google Science Fair this month with her project, the 'hollow flashlight', and she took home one of the top prizes of the fair.
The hollow flashlight she developed uses no batteries. It uses just the temperature difference between the palm of a person's hand and the air around them to, needing only a few degrees difference to generate electricity and produce light. This innovative idea is just one she has for the developing field of 'human energy harvesting' — gathering useful electricity from our movement and body heat, as we go about our daily lives.
Ann talks about her project in this video she supplied to the Google Science Fair judges:
Ann won the top prize in her 15-16 year age group, taking home a $25,000 scholarship from Google, a "once-in-a-lifetime experience" at Google, CERN or LEGO, a personalized LEGO kit, and digital access to the Scientific American archives for her school.
Speaking over the phone from the Google offices in Mountain View, California, Ann expressed her thanks to the judges for being so friendly and open. For other young people who are interested in science, she said the key is to find something that truly interests you and pursue it no matter what. The sense of accomplishment you get from performing science can be even greater than you get from the classroom.
As for what's next for Ann, she will be giving two TEDx talks in the near future — on September 28th in Redmond, Washington and October 19th in Vancouver — and she expressed a keen interest in attending TEDx events in more exotic locales as well. After that, she still has a few years left of high school, but she is very interested in pursuing more work with energy harvesting.
Given that her science hero is Nikola Tesla, probably one of the coolest scientists in history, Ann has an excellent role model to guide her inventive spirit. Now, with this prize from Google, it is sure to provide her with many opportunities to realize her potential, and for her to wow us with her accomplishments.