A Bright Idea from a Young Mind

Fifteen-year-old Ann Makosinski invents Human Powered Flashlight

By: Megan Gartrell, Staff Writer

It turns out that old cliché about power in the palm of your hand has literal meaning. At only fifteen, Ann Makosinski is making a name for herself after inventing a flashlight powered by heat from the human hand. She has named the device the Hollow Flashlight and already her video describing her science fair project has received more than 1.2 million views on YouTube.

Her invention landed her a spot as the sole representative for Canada in the 2013 Google Science Fair finals being held in California this September. She beat out thousands of submissions from around to globe to land among the top 15 finalists. Of those 15, which include students from Greece, Australia, Russia, Turkey, the US, India and Singapore, one winner from three age groups will be chosen to receive the grand prize, which includes a $50,000 scholarship, a trip to the Galapagos Islands and a $10,000 grant to the winner’s school.

Makosinski is no stranger to science competitions. The Grade 10 student from St. Michaels University School in Victoria B.C. has entered her local science fair for the past five years. Her previous projects include an MP3 player powered by the energy from a candle and a flashlight that lit LED’s with piezoelectricity. The science behind her most recent idea focuses around Peltier tiles, which produce electricity when heated on one side and cooled on the other.


In an interview with The Globe and Mail, Makosinski said she was surprised to learn how far her project has gotten. She has always had an interest in harvesting unused energy and realized that the warmth generated by the human body was an overlooked energy source. “I decided to combine my past two ideas using the Peltier tiles to harvest the human energy and demonstrate the concept using a flashlight,” she said.

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