Florida Teen Develops $12 Machine For Converting Ocean Currents Into Usable Energy

 Hannah Herbst, 2015 Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge Winner: Herbst and program mentor Dr. EmslanderHannah Herbst, 2015 Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge Winner: Herbst and program mentor Dr. Emslander

 

Another kid inventor is making headlines. This time it's a 15-year-old in Boca Raton, FL, named Hannah Herbst for developing a method for creating usable energy through ocean currents that costs only $12. It seems the youngster built a prototype for the 2015 Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge, and it was so successful that she took first place in the competition and earned $25,000 cash for her winning design. The junior scientist's method for converting the movement of the ocean’s currents into energy is based on a floating energy probe. That probe consists of just a pulley, a 3D-printed propeller and a hydroelectric generator, all of which, when combined, convert the movement of the ocean into usable energy for powering virtually anything.

Renewable Energy


While the small probe Herbst has developed currently cannot create enough energy to power something as large as an electric grid, she says her system of ocean-powered propellers does have enough oomph to run a desalinization machine for converting ocean water into potable drinking water. Hannah Herbst is like a lot of young inventors these days in the sense that her efforts on this project stem from wanting to help people in emergency situations or impoverished countries. Interestingly, the inspiration for the hydro energy probe originally came from her experience writing to a pen pal in Ethiopia. It seems the 9-year-old and her family were living without a reliable power source for electricity. As a kid, especially one who has never experienced living without modern conveniences, it's hard to wrap your brain around something like that and it puts your mind to thinking. That's exactly what happened to Herbst.

 

2015 Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge: Hannah Herbst making her presentation2015 Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge: Hannah Herbst making her presentation

 

Wunderkind Junior Scientists


With the indefatigable energy and unbridled enthusiasm of Bindi Irwin, Herbst can be seen in a video below explaining her low-cost invention in terms almost anyone can understand. In addition to winning first prize and the cash, she was also awarded the title of “America’s Top Young Scientist” for 2015. The charming 15-year-old will surely have a brilliant career in science someday, and she's already got an amazing head start. She, and others like her, make many of us wonder where the heck we were or what we were doing at that age and how come we didn't come up with anything notable. Talk about making you feel like an underachiever. Herbst, on the other hand, can feel proud she's playing a part in finding a solution to the problem of stable power sources in developing countries through under-tapped energy from something as simple as ocean currents.

 

2015 Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge: Finalists at the event2015 Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge: Finalists at the event

 

Discovery Network


As it turns out, the "Discovery" behind the Young Scientist Challenge that Hannah Herbst and nine other finalists competed in is the Discovery channel so many of us geeks are interested in. Their Discovery Education is focused on just that: education and challenging kids to be all that they can be. They are also responsible for encouraging countless kids to not only explore the sciences, but to take part in them and to play an active role in finding answers to some of the world's toughest problems. Very few other groups can lay claim to that. With their sponsorship and support of events like the one Hannah Herbst was involved in, who knows what the next wunderkind will come up with.

Source: 3M Press Release