2014 Bay Area Science Fair Awards

Congratulations to Tyler Cullen, Andrew Jakab, and Marcus Lubke

Each year the Pacific Energy Center Staff looks forward to visiting the San Francisco Bay Area Science Fair to view all the student entries and select three that represent creative work and whose subject matter relates to energy and energy conservation and sustainability. We are celebrating our 10th year of participation!

Congratulations to our 2014 winners. They will be honored at an Awards Dinner at the PEC in May.

Running on Water: Optimizing Hydrogen and Oxygen Production from Water to Power Cars. Marcus Luebke, Bayside STEM Academy, San Mateo. Grade 7

The objective of this research is to maximize hydrogen production via optimization of water electrolysis and see if I can create a design to produce enough hydrogen to run a car as an alternative to gasoline. I measured hydrogen production by adjusting variables that may affect production rate or efficiency ( voltage, type of current, plate distance, number of plates, and/or electrolytes in the water).

By applying all the optimization results, I showed that I could produce enough hydrogen real-time (goal was 714 mL/min) to run a care with a reasonable number of batteries and plates. My results supported my hypothesis and indicate that hydrogen is potentially a good alternative to gasoline for running cars as it is more efficient as a fuel and is clean for the environment.


Can Wax Solve the Winter Penalty? Andrew Jakab. Saint Mark’s School. Grade 7

The purpose of this project is to see if the winter penalty of cold roofs can be reduced or eliminated by covering them with a "change of state" material, one that is opaque and energy absorbent at one range or temperatures and transparent at a higher temperature. Such a covered roof would have its reflectivity blocked while the building is warming up and have its reflectivity exposed once the building approaches a desired, warmed up temperature. To test this I 1. Bought a small model house, 2. Painted the roof a reflective color, 3. Got two glass panels with wax between them from an inventor, 4. Got another panel of glass twice as thick, 5. Borrowed 2 infrared lights, 6. Turned lamps on and checked temperature every 5 minutes and recorded the temperature, with and without the wax panels on the roof. I did this a total of three times.

In the end, my hypothesis was proven incorrect because the wax did not pass on as much of the heat to the house as I thought it would. Instead it acted like a thermal blanket and more of the heat stayed in the wax until the wax melted instead of heating the house. That was the opposite of what was supposed to happen.


Rain to Renewable Tyler Cullen. Kent Middle School. Grade 8

For my project, Rain to Renewables, I was testing if I could harness rainwater from a street gutter to create electricity. I first thought of this when our power at home went out during a big storm. I saw all the rain rushing down our street gutter and wondered if I could generate electricity from this. The goal was to test if I could generate over 1 volt of electricity to charge a battery to then be able to charge a communication device because they are most important if the power goes out to contact help if needed. To do this, I build a 40 foot long aqueduct that channeled water into a machine at the end of the aqueduct that would then spray water down at different water turbines. After the water hit the turbines, the axle would spin and would generate electricity. I also created and tested three different turbine models to see which would be most efficient in my machine under different rain conditions. The three turbines I built were an 8 ounce Pelton turbine, a water wheel and a 30 ounce Pelton turbine.