By: Eileen Marable
Here at Science Channel we are always completely blown away by the ideas generated by younger kids today. Teenagers are sending things into space, developing apps, and questioning everything about the future. This year’s winner of the 2015 Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge is no different. She created an energy probe prototype.
You read that correctly. 15 year-old Hannah Herbst from Florida Atlantic University High School, in Boca Raton, FL captured the title this year with her prototype that seeks to offer a stable power source to developing countries by using untapped energy from ocean currents. It’s a simple idea that could be revolutionary in the years to come.
Hannah’s inspiration for the project came from her desire to help her nine-year-old pen pal in Ethiopia. Her friend lacks reliable power and electricity; nor is her friend alone in this plight. According to the World Bank, 1.1 billion people around the world do not have access to electricity.
It makes you think how a teenager’s desire to help a friend could be the seed of an idea that helps people worldwide. We think her choice of project is pretty impressive – one that has personal relevance but also casts an eye to “How can I change the future?”
She’s wasn’t alone in her journey to becoming a winner. Herbst and nine other finalists from around the country had the chance over the past three months to work directly with a 3M scientist on their invention as part of a summer internship. Herbst was paired with Jeffrey Emslander, a 3M corporate scientist whose research and patents have helped 3M reduce emissions to the environment and use less energy in the making of products.
We love the ideas that come out of the competition, but we also love the underlying genesis of the competition, which was creating a structure filled with adults passionate about science who could mentor the next generation who are equally as passionate.
During the collaboration the students looked to their 3M expert mentors to help guide them through the scientific method of advancing their ideas from a theoretical concept into an actual prototype. Together they reviewed the scientific process and worked virtually through pre-assigned objectives, with resources and support provided by Discovery Education and 3M.
During the final competition hosted by Discovery Education's Lance Rougeux, the finalists shared their completed inventions with a panel of judges, including Hakeem Oluseyi, astrophysicist and star of our own hit show Outrageous Acts of Science.
Along with the title and the knowledge gained, Herbst took home a $25,000 prize. It’s a just reward for the serious challenge that she and her fellow competitors and finalists faced.
All of us here at Science Channel just wanted to say: “You Go Hannah!”
Since its inception, the Young Scientist Challenge has awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars in student scholarships and prizes, paired students with world-renowned scientists to give them real-world insights and delivered much-needed science resources to millions of students, teachers and families across the country. Previous winners have met the President of the United States, addressed members of Congress, worked with the nation's top scientists and been featured in Forbes magazine's annual "30 Under 30" list.
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