Ann Makosinski (15) of Victoria, BC (centre left in photo) won the age 15-16 category at this year’s Google Science Fair, becoming the first Canadian to win an award in the global online event.
Her project, The Hollow Flashlight, involved the design and construction of a novel device that converts body heat into light, resulting in a steady beam without the use of batteries or other energy sources. Makosinski's flashlight relies on the thermoelectric effect, using the difference in temperature between the inside and outside of the flashlight that results from the heat transferred by the user's hand, to produce electricity.
"I got the inspiration for my project when I found out humans are actually like 100 watt walking light bulbs. We have so much thermal energy in us, so why aren't we using it?," she noted.
The award includes a US$25,000 scholarship to further her education and a "once-in-a-lifetime experience" from CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research), LEGO, or Google.
In May, at the 2013 Canada-Wide Science Fair in Lethbridge, Alberta, Makosinski won the Energy Challenge Award (Intermediate) and a gold medal. She began entering science fairs in grade six and, in addition to experimenting with electronics, Makosinski enjoys acting, field hockey, and editing and directing movies and plays.
The Google Science Fair is a global online competition open to students aged 13-18. This year's finalists were selected from thousands of entries from over 120 countries. The 15 finalists presented their projects to a panel of acclaimed scientists, innovators, explorers, and entrepreneurs from around the world at the Google HQ in Mountain View, California.
Canada is one of only three countries to have a finalist in all three years of the Google Science Fair to date - the other two are India and the USA. Previous Canadian finalists were Christopher Nielsen of Calgary, Alberta in 2011 and Yassine Bouanane of Laval, Québec in 2012.
Click the link to sign up for notifications about participating in the 2014 Google Science Fair.
Watch the Award ceremony below, or on the Google Science Fair web site.