When I was in sixth grade, I started exchanging letters with a pen pal in Ethiopia. The world she described could not possibly have been farther from my world, going to school in Florida. She talked about her school, family and hobbies, but the thing that really stuck with me was her description of electricity in her village.
There wasn’t any.
Sometimes they would use generators, but they were expensive to run and maintain. And “expensive” was not an easy challenge to meet. But, for me, it set a different kind of challenge. I’ve always loved science and especially the science of energy production and use.
So when the opportunity to take part in the 2015 Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge came up, I knew the direction I wanted to take. I developed an idea for a probe that would harness power from ocean currents and convert it to electricity that could be used to power homes. After submitting a two-minute video about my project in April, I was honored to be named a finalist and paired with a 3M scientist mentor, Jeffrey Emslander, for the summer to develop my project. It has been an incredible journey.
I traveled to St. Paul, Minnesota – 3M headquarters – for the competition. Alongside nine other finalists, I participated in several hands-on challenges and presented my innovation to a panel of distinguished judges. After three unforgettable days at the incredible 3M Innovation Center, I was honored to have received the title of America’s Top Young Scientist and $25,000.
I am extremely grateful for 3M and Discovery Education, as they cultivated my love of science throughout this competition. I look forward to continuing my work of mitigating the global energy poverty crisis through hydroelectric energy collection under my mentor and 3M’s Team Africa. In the future, I plan to deploy my innovation to developing countries and remote villages to help people who endure conditions similar to those of my nine-year-old pen pal in Ethiopia, who is living in energy poverty and lacks access to electricity.
I am very excited to see how my innovation will change lives in the future.