by Morgan Smith
One south Charlotte group of students have teamwork down pat – they’ve been doing it for three years now, and after taking second place in the national Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge the group said they’re sticking together for a couple more years.
Danny Morrow, twin brothers Tanner and Cameron Love and Savannah Morgan, all sophomores at Providence Day School, spent this past school year working on a sustainability project to help conserve energy. But it’s not the first time they’ve had success in a science, technology, engineering and math competition. Since the eighth grade, the team has worked together in other STEM competitions such as the U.S. Army’s eCYBERMISSION where they took home awards such as a the creativity award and were national finalists as ninth-graders.
“We were all friends and we were all pretty good at science, so we thought we would be a really good team,” Tanner explained.
“After ninth grade, we found the (Siemens) competition to see if we could continue our success,” Savannah said, since eCYBERMISSION isn’t offered after the ninth grade.
This year, with the help of their teacher and mentor Barbara Morrow, the group developed a method of harnessing energy through electromagnetic inductance.
The group came up with the idea after brainstorming and researching ways to seek less dependence on non-reusable resources such as coal and oil.
“One day we just came up with using electromagnetic inductance and so we wanted to use that technology and put it into practice and do a practical use – so we decided to put in a floor mat,” Tanner said.
So the group did just that. They inserted spring-loaded cells made of copper coils and magnets into a standard fatigue mat, storing energy through everyday activities.
“The initial goal was to harness energy from just humans walking,” Tanner added. “We create energy so why not harness it? Basically you can put it anywhere and as long as people are walking, you can harness energy.”
The mat has the ability to store enough energy to power simple devices, like a SteriPEN, or a portable water purification system, something the group says could really change the world.
For Barbara Morrow, she said she couldn’t be more proud of the team, especially because their solution has the ability to change the world in a positive way.
“With Providence Day’s focus on global education, I think they did a really great job being effective, global members or citizens,” Morrow said. “I think they are definitely looking at ways that they can help other people.”
The prototype project cost $200 to $300, they said. They paid for the project on their own, with money they received from past competitions.
“Seeing that they can find solutions to world issues at that cost – they can have a big impact,” Morrow added.
The team received a $25,000 scholarship to be split four-ways for their win, along with a $1,000 grant for their school, among other things. Morrow said she’s not surprised the group did so well, especially since the students are so high achieving.
“They have really busy and very rigorous schedules during the day,” Morrow said, in addition to after-school activities such as cheerleading, wrestling, soccer, football and track. “They were not only working hard in the classroom and working hard in the playing field. They got together beyond that and did something STEM related and I think it’s because they have a love for it.”
Overall, the students said they were surprised to be recognized nationally, but are excited to start on next year’s project and find more solutions.
“We had the resources to go and tackle this problem. There are people that don’t have the same opportunities that we have,” Cameron said. “We have a great education. We figured it would be a waste if we didn’t try and do something.”
“I hope it shows other people that a group of kids can tackle problems like this and I hope it inspired others to come up with their own solutions,” Savannah added.