The challenge was to find a means to alternative energy. Last weekend, at the Imagine Tomorrow competition, Ballard High School students met that challenge head on.
Thirty-one Ballard students traveled to the competition held at Washington State University in Pullman, where they were joined other students from around the state in presenting innovative technologies, designs and plans in the hopes of curbing or altering how energy is harvested and consumed in the country. Imagine Tomorrow was giving $100,000 in cash awards and prizes. While Ballard students didn't win any money, their Green Machine won in the Most Likely to Succeed in the Marketplace category, and their Vertical Axis Savonius Turbine (VAST) took the Global Impact Award.
Conceived by team members Olivia Sommers, Arden Carmody, Jordan Westerman, Andria Ellis and Elayne Flicker, the Green Machine is a device that will charge a cell phone using bicycle power. The device is affixed to the bicycle tire and as the rider pedals, electricity is generated and sent to a converter which is connected to the cell phone.
The VAST device cost its team membes, Julian Powell and Troy Brasel, nothing. They scavenged parts to design what is essentially a wind turbine. Its ingenuity was that it used recycled parts, which translates into less garbage in landfills and more cleanly produced energy.
Another project involved the fabrication of school chairs made of bamboo, a more natural and biodegradable material that would replace the plastic and steel used today. Those students didn't receive an award, but two business people approached them, gave them their business cards and wanted to talk about going beyond a prototype.
Because the Ballard students didn't win any cash awards, they seemed a bit dejected, said adviser Joe Kelly. But he quickly set them straight on the Sunday ride home. He told his students that after the competition, he and the other Ballard advisers were sitting together when advisers from other schools approached them and gave unsolicited praise to the Ballard students' efforts.
"I just want to tell you how successful you are," Kelly told his students. The student who designed the bamboo chair and who was at first dejected, may have had a change of heart and might just call the business people who gave him their card.
"I hope he follows up," Kelly said. "I think he's very jazzed to continue."
One of the projects that took top honors was a biodegradable charcoal briquette. Students had made a biomass of recycled materials and compressed it into charcoal that when put in the ground shores up erosion and releases nutrients into the soil. Another notable project was an anaerobic digestion contraption that used heat and movement to separate cow manure into water, solid waste and methane. Last year, students from Lake Roosevelt High School developed biodiesel fuel using fish waste products from the Columbia River Fish Farm, which they sold back to the farm. Also last year, Ballard students took third place and received $1,500 in the Behavior Challenge category for their implementation of composting programs at local schools.[[In-content Ad]]