2015 Press Release

3 High School Students named Winners of the 2015 MIT THINK Scholars Program

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., February 19, 2015 – Three U.S. high school students as recognized as Winners of the 2015 MIT THINK Scholars Program, one of the only student-run high school research competitions in the country.


THINK stands for Technology for Humanity guided by Innovation, Networking, and Knowledge. Every year, the MIT THINK team, a student organization at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, accepts applications from high school students around the country. THINK aims to make science and technology research accessible to all motivated high school students by providing the resources needed to complete a project. Since the program started in 2008, it has helped tens of students in the past several years complete innovative and creative projects in the STEM field.


This year, the MIT THINK team received over a hundred applications for the grant, and chose 6 distinguished projects to be Finalists of the program. The 6 Finalists received an all-expenses-paid trip to MIT from February 1-5, where they visit xFair, the largest annual technology expo fair at MIT, tour various labs, meet individually with professors, and give a presentation of their project. From among the 6 Finalists, three Winners are chosen to receive a $1000 scholarship and a $2000 grant to carry out their project. "We want to provide students an opportunity to work on projects that they would not have the resources to work on otherwise, and we are extremely excited to be able to work with our Winners to realize their projects," said Youyang Gu, director of the MIT THINK Scholars Program. "The quality and sophistication of these students' projects continue to amaze our team each year."


Below are the 2015 MIT THINK Winners:


Artificial Musculature: A New Approach to the Linear Solenoid

Emma Morgan, Grade 11, Stevenson School, Pebble Beach, CA

Advancement in biologically based robotics is the key to better prosthetics and more lifelike robots. This requires linear motion like that of natural musculature. Currently, the major types of electromechanical linear actuators are solenoids and pneumatics, which are not well adapted for use as musculature. This paper proposes a redesign of the linear solenoid to form linear actuator cells. Consisting of a permanent magnet and an electromagnet, these modular cells will expand and contract based on the direction of the current through the electromagnet. Each cell can connect to another identical cell and form a chain or “muscle”. I will test several sizes of cells, types of electromagnets, and materials for the outer membrane to determine which has the most contraction capacity and efficiency. Later research will focus on miniaturization of the most efficient model.


Cooler Photovoltaics Using Phase Change Materials

Aditya Jog, Grade 10, William Mason High School, Mason, OH

Photovoltaic cells have the potential to utilize the planet’s most plentiful renewable energy source, yet their widespread use has been impeded because of relatively low efficiency. The solar to electrical conversion efficiency of photovoltaic devices suffers when they operate at elevated temperatures. Current solutions rely on active heat dissipation, increasing both capital and operating costs. This proposal offers an alternative, passive heat dissipation system that employs a solid-liquid phase change material as a temperature regulator. During daytime, the phase change material will absorb wasted heat from an attached solar panel, thus keeping the photovoltaic cells near optimal temperature. At night, the liquid phase change material will freeze; this process will repeat daily. The major advantage of this system is that it requires no additional energy consumption at little extra cost. This project aims to produce a cost effective thermal energy storage system to increase the conversion efficiency of photovoltaic cells.


Thermoelectric Gloves: An Ergonomic and Sustainable Solution

Sharon Lin, Grade 10, Stuyvesant High School, New York, NY

While conventional gloves may be able to insulate heat, they rely solely on pockets of air left between the fabric and the user’s skin. Worse, many are bulky and do an insufficient job of protecting the hands from cold conditions. The aim of this project is to create a thermo-regulating polymer glove powered by the wearer’s own body heat. A thermoelectric generator (TEG) will generate energy based on the difference in external and internal temperatures, storing the energy in a flexible, polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) battery. The battery will be nestled between layers of breathable membranes with stainless steel threaded through to provide full circulation for the heat. All of the electrical components of the thermoelectric glove will be wired back to a circuit board, on which an Arduino microcontroller will wirelessly monitor the performance of the heating system. The finished product will have numerous applications in commercial, medical, and industrial fields.


To learn more about the MIT THINK Scholars Program, visit http://think.mit.edu, and follow the organization on Facebook or Twitter. Contact think@mit.edu for questions.