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Ann Makosinski is an Intel ISEF 2014 and 2015 finalist who’s gone on to create flashlights and phone chargers that take excess heat and turn them into energy.
For those creations — the eDrink coffee mug and Hollow Flashlight — Ann was named one of Popular Science’s “Young Inventors of the Year” and Teen Vogue’s “Earth Angels Helping the Environment.” She participated in science fairs from sixth to twelfth grade and is now enrolled at the University of British Columbia.
We talked to her about her inventions, why her Intel ISEF experience fed her passion for a STEM career, and her future TV show.
eDrink, Hollow Flashlight AND WHY EXCESS ENERGY MATTERS: The eDrink is a coffee mug that harvests the excess heat of your hot drink while you're waiting for it to cool down, and converts it into electricity, which can eventually give your iPod or iPhone a small boost of energy when needed.
It is still in prototype form, but it does work. It uses Peltier tiles (thermoelectric generators), and by heating one side of the tiles with your drink and cooling the other side with the design of the mug (and a bunch of electronic circuits of course), electricity is produced.
I'm always so full of questions. Finding that science held answers to them has fueled my passion.
I got the inspiration for my project when I noticed that my high school friends were always complaining about their phones dying too soon and that their coffee was too hot to drink. The Hollow Flashlight, which can be powered by the heat of your hand, also uses Peltier tiles.
MOST MEMORABLE INTEL ISEF EXPERIENCE: Making amazing bonds with my fellow Canadian team mates. The friends you make at science fair are ones you will never find again.
Intel ISEF is the epitome, the ULTIMATE science fair that all hardcore science fair kids like me dreamt about. It was an honor to attend and meet so many amazing and bizarrely creative people.
FIRST INVENTION: It was probably some weird creation or pretend camera I made out of a bunch of garbage from around the house and a hot glue gun. I'm always so full of questions, and finding that science held answers to them all has always fueled my passion. The incentive or reward for me when making stuff is to learn all I can and enjoy the creative experience.
NEXT STEPS: Maybe I'll study Environmental Design, maybe I'll become a high tech masseuse, who knows. I really have no idea. I have too many different interests to focus into one conventional degree, which is unfortunate.
Intel ISEF is the ULTIMATE science fair that hardcore science fair kids like me dream about.
I just hope in the future I will be working for myself, with my own TV show showcasing other amazing inventors and entrepreneurs, running my own company, and living in California with three cats, and a dog, and a wonderful husband.
ADVICE FOR STEM STUDENTS: Do not care what anybody thinks, just do you! Please do not pay attention to anything the media is dictating and still unfortunately reinforcing stereotypes about "nerds" or "geeks." If you are being bullied at school because of your passions, ignore the haters. They are not worth your time.
If you put in even 20 minutes a day on the one thing you are most passionate about, you will be able to achieve your wildest dreams. Anything is possible if you put all your heart, and soul, and work into it.
It is often said that if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. While that may be true, it discounts how satisfying hard work can be, especially in the face of challenges.
“I would not be here without science fair.” Those were the first words Virginia Davis, a professor of chemical engineering at Auburn University, said to the audience of fair directors and tea