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Ann Makosinski and her human-powered flashlight

Google Science Fair Winner Makes Flashlight Powered by Body Heat

Many of us stash a flashlight for emergencies, only to find that when the time comes to use it, the batteries have run out. The problem of how to achieve efficient, lightweight energy storage plagues everything from flashlights to electric cars. But what if you could bypass it altogether? That’s what Ann Makosinski of Canada has done with her Hollow Flashlight, which won the 15-16 age group category of the Google Science Fair on Monday. Makosinksi’s flashlight runs on four Peltier tiles, which convert heat into energy using the temperature differential between a person’s hand and the ambient air.

“I chose to investigate the aspect of human energy when I found out that we are like walking 100-watt light bulbs,” wrote Makosinski, 15, in her project brief. Makosinski, who is from British Columbia, Canada, imagined her design being used in classroom seats to power schools, on wireless medical sensors, or to charge cell phones.

National Geographic is a partner in the Google fair, which also awarded prizes to research projects on traffic regulation and the influenza virus. Winners in each age category received scholarship funds and other prizes. Check out Makosinski’s video, where she describes her winning project.