Encouraging the Next Generation of Energy Researchers

Author: Anne Pillai

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Hundreds of area K-12 students gathered in Notre Dame’s Stepan Center on March 4 to participate in the Northern Indiana Regional Science and Engineering Fair (NIRSEF). Among those in the early morning throng were six volunteers from ND Energy’s Student Energy Board (SEB). These undergraduates interviewed junior and senior level energy related projects to determine the quality of the work and the energy IQ of the presenters. By noon, two projects were chosen as winners of the 2017 Energy Award.

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On the junior level, Cole Klinedinst, a sixth grader from Discovery Middle School in Granger, won for his project, “Capacitors- How Much Energy Can a Leyden Jar Store?”. Cole was inspired to experiment with Leyden jars after researching Benjamin Franklin for a school assignment. Franklin was the first to use the word “battery” to describe connecting jars to build up more storage capacity. Like the researchers at ND Energy, Cole was trying to maximize energy storage.

The senior award went to a team from Elkhart Memorial High School, Romikumar Patel and Diego Reynoso, for their experimentation on “Artificial Photosynthesis.” As part of a brand new research class at their school, the pair ran over 100 tests in search of an effective catalyst. They were very knowledgeable of ongoing photosynthesis research and enthusiastic about the future potential of using sunlight to reduce air pollution and create new biofuels.

SEB members who helped with the judging were Justin Blake, Yilong Yang, Emily Black, Shane Andersen, Beruchya Dao-Bai, and Francie Fink. The SEB helps to educate the community about progress being made at Notre Dame toward renewable energy by volunteering in local schools and at events such as the science fair, in addition to engaging the Notre Dame campus during Energy Week and throughout the year.

Originally published by Anne Pillai at energy.nd.edu on March 20, 2017.