Ann Makosinski’s invention could help light the future around the world.
The 15-year-old St. Michaels University School student took the top prize for her age bracket at the 2013 Google Science Fair with her human-powered, hollow tube flashlight.
Though her invention came second at the 2012 Vancouver Island Science Fair to Emily Kleu’s (of Lambrick Park) compostable oil spill pads, the Google Science Fair judges saw a different niche for the flashlight and shortlisted the self-powered machine from thousands of entries.
Her prize is a Google scholarship worth $25,000 toward her future education costs at either LEGO, CERN (the European Centre for Nuclear Research), or Google.
Makosinski’s inspiration to build the device was twofold.
“I’ve always been interested in harvesting surplus energy and humans are a great source of untapped thermal energy,” she said on YouTube. “I’ve (also) been to the Philippines quite a few times … I know some of the boys and girls personally, and some of them in particular have failed their grades solely because they don’t have any light to study in.
“Imagine having free access to light such as my flashlight to use. It would be so wonderful to try eliminating batteries more and more.”
Built on a hollow aluminium tube, the “heart” of the science are handheld Peltier tiles, which create electric power when heated on one side, by a human hand, and cooled on the other, even at room temperature.
The aluminium tube is hollow which allows air to flow through the flashlight and create the temperature difference needed to produce electricity.