Thirteen-year-old Maanasa Mendu created a clean energy harvesting device that will cost just $5. She won the 2016 Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge and became America’s Top Young Scientist. She also received $25,000 for her achievement and to help her work on her future projects.
Mendu wanted to develop a cheaper way to produce clean energy with the intention to help developing areas in need of cheaper power sources.
Earlier when she entered the competition, she intended to harness only wind energy. She made a piezoelectric wind-energy device that secured her a place as a finalist in the Young Scientist Challenge. Here’s what her product looked like:
After that, she participated in a mentorship program and came up with her winning design. Taking the inspiration from how plants function, she developed solar leaves that could harness vibrational energy as well. These amazing solar leaves can draw energy from the wind, the sun, precipitation, and even the leaf vibrations, using solar cells and the piezoelectric materials.
Now Mendu has plans to take this prototype design further so that she can make it available to the public.