The future looks bright thanks to the next generation of scientists. Maanasa Mendu, a 13-year-old girl from Ohio, recently won the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge for creating a $5 energy harvesting device. Mendu’s innovative design, called HARVEST, converts sunlight, wind, and rain into renewable energy. Mendu has been named America’s Top Young Scientist and won $25,000.
Inspired by a trip to India, where she saw many people without electricity or clean water, Mendu decided to design an affordable device capable of generating clean energy. She first came up with a piezoelectric wind-energy device that secured her a place as a finalist in this year’s Young Scientist Challenge. Then she participated in a mentorship program over the summer, as did nine other challenge finalists, to come up with her winning design.
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HARVEST expands on the original design to include solar power. Her device utilizes “solar leaves” inspired by plants to gather vibration energy. HARVEST works via solar cells and piezoelectric material, or material generating electrical currents when exposed to vibration, so when it’s rainy, windy, or sunny, the device can gather energy. HARVEST is affordable too: it only costs about $5 to put the device together.
Mendu’s goal is to keep scale up HARVEST for commercial distribution. The Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge was first inaugurated in 2008; since then, numerous winners have made the Forbes 30 Under 30 list. Other 2016 finalists worked on projects such as collecting energy from metabolic bacteria or creating bioplastics and biodiesel from pumpkin seed oil.
Discovery Education CEO Bill Goodwyn said in a statement, “Each year, the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge reminds us of the inspiring ingenuity that results when we empower our youngest generation to apply science, critical thinking, and creativity to solve real-world problems. Discovery Education is honored to stand alongside 3M in congratulating Maanasa and the rest of this year’s finalists on their impressive innovations that foreshadow a bright future for our nation.”
+ Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge
Via Business Insider Australia
Images via screenshot and Discovery Education