A team from Mainland High School has an idea to harness wind energy.
Jash Patel, a Mainland High School student, didn’t know there was so much copper inside a ceiling fan.
He and his brother, Miraj, of Ormond Beach, took the fan apart for materials they need for an international science contest where they will get mentorship from professionals and have a chance to win cash prizes.
Their project is one of 10 finalists out of 235 entries from around the world in the 2016 Clean Tech Competition.
The brothers will be presenting their idea to judges on an educational STEM cruise from Miami to the Dominican Republic in July. The contest theme is “Making an Impact,” and it challenges 15 to 18-year-old students to develop clean technology solutions for real world issues.
In addition to learning what’s inside a ceiling fan, the brothers also learned how to make plastic sheets by melting and compressing plastic bags in an oven. They’ll use the plastic to make the parts they need for their project, a wind turbine with generator to create electricity.
“There is so much wind, especially on the ocean,” Miraj said.
He said he wanted an inexpensive energy source that will harness energy without killing birds, such as happens with large wind turbines.
“It’s a small windmill, a cylinder you can put on your house,” he said.
In the contest, the first place winner will get $10,000; second, $7,000; third, $5,000; and others, $1,000.
The perfect project
The endeavor began when Joy Harper, teacher in advanced placement, chemistry, learned of the contest. She opened it up to students and found the Patel brothers to be interested.
“I’ve had them in classes, and I knew they would work hard,” she said.
They met at lunch and brainstormed until they came up with the idea. A third student, Darryl Leverett, was on the team but had to drop out because he is 18.
Also on the team is Deonce Roland, environmental science teacher. She called the project “phenomenal.”
“It’s using recyclable material to make a renewable form of energy,” she said. “It’s perfect.”
Harper said that in addition to cash prizes, the contest also offers the chance for students to be mentored by professionals in a STEM field. They are working with Joanne Anderson, of Brookings, South Dakota, who has a doctorate in atmosphere, environment and water resources, and they will meet more professionals on the cruise. In the Dominican Republic, they will meet with representatives of the U.S. Patent Office.
Miraj said it was exciting when they were notified that they were among the ten finalists.
“We worked so hard,” he said. “We don’t want to let this opportunity go to waste.”
The Clean Tech Competition is sponsored by the Center for Science Teaching and Learning, a nonprofit organization in the Tanglewood Preserve in Rockville Centre, New York. The stated mission of the organization is to encourage science learning and literacy.
Harper hopes to raise enough money for the trip.
“We would love to send them to this science competition to showcase how talented and intelligent our students are,” she said. “If we can share with the community what we’ve learned, that would be really cool.”
The brothers are interested in science, and they already have career plans. Jash hopes to be a doctor, while Miraj says either a doctor or an engineer.