Garrett Yazzie: A navajo indian junior high student not only entered but won first place in the 2005 annual Arizona American Indian Science And Engineering Fair. Garrett’s has been called the “junk yard genius” by some because he secured most and maybe all of the parts for his solar heating project from a junk yard.
Garrett made a solar powered heater out of aluminum cans and a car radiator from an old Pontiac, which he found at a junkyard. He says his mother and his science teachers influenced him the most because by discussing the importance of an education. They asl encouraged him to construct things. “What I enjoyed most about the project is that I got to build the entire thing myself. I also liked collecting the data and seeing that the heater actually worked. The results really took me by surprise,” says Garrett.
Was Garrett’s project a science project? An engineering project? An invention? Actually his project was all of these things. It could have been entered as an earth science project because it is about solar power. It certainly fits with being part of any invention competition. Garrett chose to enter it as an engineering project because of its applications to benefit his community.
Garrett’s desctribes the application of his project: “My project is about using the sun’s light ray (shani diin – Navajo for sun) energy to heat air and water,” says Garrett. “My project can help save people money because other forms of energy are getting expensive these days.” Garrett adds that his invention can help a number of people living in his community. “Since there are a lot of homes here on the Navajo Reservation without running water or electricity, my homemade heater can help them heat well water and also their home.”Garrett was one of the 40 finalists (out of 7500 applicants) chosen to attend the 2005 Discovery Channel Young Scientist Challenge in Washington, D.C. The following year he invented (engineered) a water wheel using an industrial-size cable spool connected to a 10-speed bicycle and an alternator. The wheel produced enough electricity to power a refrigerator or light up a mountain cabin. Once again, he won the American Indian science fair and placed as a semifinalist in the Discovery Channel challenge.
Garrett’s engineering projects are good examples that alternate energy sources can work.
Using solar power is a good way to make every day a Green Day.