January 12, 2001

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Four very creative elementary school student inventors, winners of a nationwide EnergySmart Schools Contest, meet on January 12 with the nation's top energy scientists and engineers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), where they will build their energy-saving ideas. The national invention contest for elementary school students was sponsored by Owens Corning and the U.S. Department of Energy.

Students who entered the contest drew an original, energy-saving device and submitted a description of how it works. The winning projects are: 1) a "Miniature Hydroelectric Power Plant" that captures the energy in a home's faucets; 2) "The Plugger," an electricity monitoring device that beeps when energy use exceeds a set point; 3) "The Beeping Air Conditioner," which beeps when a window is open; and 4) a "Light Searcher" that indicates which lights are on or off all over the house -- and allows control from a single point.

The elementary school-aged inventors are :

  • Annie Austin, sixth grade, Lewis Farrell Elementary School, Philadelphia, PA (The Plugger)
  • Kate Flor-Stagnato, fourth grade, Coles School, Scotch Plains, NJ (The Beeping Air Conditioner)
  • Jonathan Ioviero, fifth grade, Oak Orchard Elementary School, Medina, NY (the Light Searcher)
  • Michael Torrey, fifth grade, Forest Park Elementary School, Fremont, CA (The Miniature Hydroelectric Power Plant)

The four EnergySmart Schools Inventors receive a $250 savings bond and an all-expenses-paid trip to Berkeley where on January 12, they are to build their inventions with the help of Berkeley Lab and Owens Corning scientists and engineers. All four inventors will continue on to New York City on a press tour in February to exhibit their award-winning, energy-saving inventions.

At Berkeley Lab, the winners and their families will take a tour of the Lab in the morning, have lunch, and then convene at a workshop site in the afternoon to build their inventions. A VIP ceremony will take place at 2 p.m. with Berkeley Lab Director Charles V. Shank, Berkeley Mayor Shirley Dean, Fremont Mayor Gus Morrison, Owens Corningís Dave Brown (President of the Insulation Products Division), and officials of the Department of Energy.

Additional information:

  • Berkeley Labís Engineering Division has been working since the winners were announced in December to develop "kits" that the student inventors will be able to assemble into their inventions when they arrive at the Lab. The winnersí original plans, the development of those plans into working designs by Berkeley Lab Engineering Division volunteers, pictures of the development teams, and the progress of the construction process is wonderfully chronicled online at http://eetd.lbl.gov/inventors/.