The Science of My Life John-Nicholas Furst 9/25/08

The most significant experience that has happened to me in the past year was my involvement in a science fair. It started when my physics teacher offered the chance to receive honors credit if we did an extra project and presented it at a regional science competition which would be held later in the school year. I decided that I would take the offer for honors credit, even though at this point I had no clear direction for a project. I started off thinking my project would revolve around computer science; I have been the programming captain for the Robotics Team for two years and have been programming computer applications and website for years. Computer science seemed to be the logical area of study for my project, however seven weeks after signing up for the honors option I still had no project idea, and time was running out to decide what I was going to do and begin preliminary research before the actually study. On a rainy October night, I was watching Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth and I decided that I must do something to help the environment. This transcended into an idea that my honors science project could be a new innovative way for renewable energy. I muted the movie for a moment and sat alone thinking about how I could accomplish this task. I started thinking about current renewable energy alternatives and ways they could be applied at my own home. I live in Corvallis, Oregon, where my house is surrounded by trees and thus we don’t receive much light, solar power would not be practical. Generally it’s not very windy;

anything dealing with wind would also not produce much output. At this moment the torrential downpour picked up even more and I heard the mass quantities of water hit the skylights in the room I was in. It was immediately obvious, what’s the one renewable resource that we have so much here in Corvallis, rain! My mind was already planning how I would do it before I even fully realized that I had just found my project. I would harness the energy from the rain, specifically the rain that hits people’s houses. I applied basic physics and determined the best point would be at the bottom of a gutter downspout, where the rain has the longest free fall allowing for the most kinetic potential energy. I scavenged through my robotics laboratory and found a special electric fan that I was able to modify and turn into a water turbine. I performed my tests and quickly had my data to show that is feasible to collect small amounts of energy from the water that runs down rain gutter downspouts. In late February I took my fifteen page report, my large poster, and my presentation to the regional science fair to fulfill my honors requirements. I presented along with 200+ others. Late the same night I was informed that I was chosen as one of the ten finalists who would re-present in front of everyone the next day. I was in shock, I knew my presentation had gone well, but I was not expecting to have to present again. I rejoiced with my friends who also were chosen in the top ten, and we spent the rest of the night practicing our presentations for the morning rather than attending our planned event to go see a movie that night. I presented again in the morning in front of the entire audience and was grilled by the judges

with questions to check my understanding; all went as perfect as possible. Later that night at the awards reception and dinner I was awarded second place. This came along with a scholarship to any college I plan to attend, an all expense paid trip to Orlando Florida to present at the National Symposium, an invite to the International Engineering Expo in Houston, Texas, and a private invite to the Annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. This experience has changed my life and has insured my future in continuing my passion for science, technology, and engineering.

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