4 Solar Innovations from Young Inventors
It is no question that solar is the future of energy, and the younger generations of today will be our industry leaders in the coming decades. And more and more programs are popping up across the country to get youth more involved in solar.
A Purdue University study found that the best way to get students interested in engineering and technology at an early age is to focus less on teaching from textbooks and use more interactive, problem-solving design projects. During the study, different science classes were taught using hands-on methods of teaching. The results showed that students who were involved in a hands-on project learned more about the subject matter and had higher test scores than those taught with more traditional methods.
The annual Solar Discovery Faire, held in Glendale, CA, provides an opportunity for students and teachers to share solar energy explorations with the community. It is an independent event that gives participants a chance to create kinetic solar devices and inform attendees about the benefits of their inventions. Educating the students with hands-on learning helps prepare young community members to become future energy leaders and inventors.
Young Solar Innovators
Some of the most impressive and most altruistic uses of solar energy have been deployed by some of the youngest inventors and innovators in the space. Here are four of the most impressive:
- A talented group of 12 teenage girls from San Fernando High School in California wanted to make a difference by helping the increasing homeless population in their community. The girls designed and built a solar-powered tent that is stored in a rollaway backpack for easy mobility. The group was awarded a $10,000 grant from Lemelson-MIT Program to continue the project.
- Over 1 billion people in the world lack access to clean drinking water. Deepika Kurup created a cost-effective and sustainable water purification system which harnesses solar energy to disinfect contaminated water. In 2012, at age 14, Kurup was awarded the Young Scientist Award for her invention. In 2014, she went on to win the United States Stockholm Junior Water Prize. The following year, she won National Geographic’s 2015 Google Science Fair. Kurup continues to use solar energy innovation to solve some of the world’s largest water problems.
- NASA holds the NASA Optimus Prime Spinoff Promotion and Research Challenge, called OPSPARC, where students use technology developed for NASA’s missions to create their own inventions. Olivia Marion, 11, has always had a passion for challenges and science, which fueled her drive to enter the contest. Marion created a solar-powered heated hat to help people who work outside and the homeless population stay warm. The hat incorporated carbon fiber heat tape developed by NASA.
- Landyn Mansfield and Wyatt Sharp, from Westminster Elementary School in Maryland have also competed in NASA’s OPSPARC and took second place with their invention of an electric solar gas compressor. Fourth-grader, Sreekar Bheemavarapu, created a solar-powered dehumidifier and placed third in OPSPARC.
These young inventors are the future of solar innovation and it’ll be an exciting journey to see the positive impact they’ll have on the world.
Solar Education Organization
Today’s youth are making impressive strides in solar innovation. Part of their success can be accredited to the emphasis on solar education for their generation. Many organizations are getting involved, including:
- Ohio Energy Project: OEP is a nonprofit state affiliate of the National Energy Education Development (NEED) Project. OEP facilitates teachers’ and students’ understanding of the science of energy and its efficient use in order to empower and educate the next generations of energy consumers.
- Solar Energy International: Offers a free online course, available in both English and Spanish, that covers the basics of renewable energy. This is a great introduction for those new to the field, those who are looking to make a career change, or those who just want to learn more about renewable energy, energy efficiency, and the basics of electricity.
- Let’s Go Solar: Offers an online resource with dozens of fun ideas that teach kids about solar power. The solar-powered toys and kits are environmentally friendly and entertaining. The kits are interactive, can be assembled by kids, and suit a variety of age groups.
Solar Innovation Goes Beyond Solar PanelsSolar technology doesn’t stop at solar panels for your home. Solar education is important, as youths learn about the value of solar, and how solar technology can be incorporated into many other products.