Made My Own Light (Final(ly))- Eliza Martin

Six months ago, I never would have imagined that I would have that I would have survived senior year, let alone finished designing and making my biomedical engineering project. But somehow, there are only thirty-six days until I graduate, and I finally finished my biomedical engineering project! While I successfully completed my product about a week ago, I did not present my product to the Ann Richards School community until Friday, April 24th. As I mentioned in my previous blog post (which can be found here), I spent a lot of time working on the Google SketchUp model. While I did complete my SketchUp model, my final product looked vastly different from my model. I spent about two nights initially completing my product. I had originally designed my final product to use copper tape in place of the current scrap copper wire in order to conduct and pass the electrical current from the solar panels. However, I ran into a problem, when I realized that no store in Austin had copper tape. I had completely built the cardboard and battery frame for the design believing that one hardware store in Austin would have copper tape. Much to surprise and frustration, not one store in Austin or the surrounding area had copper tape. I called every hardware store in Austin, Georgetown, and Cedar Park. Not one had copper tape. So, the night before my project was supposed to be completed, I drove to Home Depot, and searched for the expertise of someone who could help me figure out a way to salvage my project. Jim, the kindest man to ever walk the earth, stopped his closing duties for Home Depot and spent thirty minutes with me, bouncing ideas back and forth. After I suggested using copper wire to somehow conduct the electrical current in place of the copper tape, he suggested using scrap copper that Home Depot collects to serve as the base for the junction of the charging ends of the battery and the copper wire that would carry the electrical current. After basically crying my thanks to Jim, I went home and successfully completed the project using scrap copper and copper wire.

Original photo of final product completed by Make Your Own Light
Original photo of final product completed by Make Your Own Light

After using a copious amount of duct tape and copper wire, my project was finally completed. I used a volt meter to measure to ensure that the batteries were receiving electricity from the solar panel, and they were. In fact, I placed the Make Your Own Light device outside in the direct sunlight, and the two batteries were completely charged in four hours.

On Friday, Ms. Jo and the makers organized the Make-o-Rama, which was a day long celebration of making. In the morning, my advisory worked to design a dress worthy of walking the runway during the Maker Showdown. My advisory actually ended up winning the entire Maker Showdown. After the Maker Showdown, all the students in the school worked to showcase what they had made or had designed throughout their classes. For the biomedical-engineering class, we had three shifts where different groups signed up to set up a table to present their product. I presented during the last shift right before school ended and showcased my final product. Because I presented during the last shift, the majority of the the people at the school had either already walked through the wing and didn’t realize that the projects were changing, or were busy presenting their own projects. That being said, I did talk to three middle schoolers who were really interested in the project and thought it was a really interesting project and design.

Original photo by Erin Simons of Eliza talking to a student about her product
Original photo by Erin Simons of Eliza talking to a student about her product


Original photo of final product
Original photo of final product

I worked extremely hard throughout the semester to design and make a product that was environmentally friendly and low cost geared for developing countries. Seeing as I essentially worked on my own for the project and met my two main goals of creating a product that was environmentally friendly and low cost, I believe that I would give myself an A. While I originally thought that I would design an actual light that was made of recyclable materials and used solar energy, I realized that there was a greater need for the ability to power a variety of electronics throughout developing countries, and my design allows for this to occur.

Currently, I am using my design to charge batteries that power my graphing calculator. While I have no plans to take the project to college and grow a business, I would like to use it in my home or give it to someone in the community who needs it. In the future, I think it would be exciting to get involved with a non-profit who is working to bring green energy and/or sustainable products to developing countries, such as Liter of Light. While I do not plan on pursuing engineering in college or after, the problem solving skills and the desire to improve my community that I learned in this class, have greatly impacted me.

6 thoughts on “Made My Own Light (Final(ly))- Eliza Martin

Add yours

  1. Dear Eliza,
    I really like your project and its so sad that you’ve worked on it all year and I’ve barely gotten to hear about it! I’d like to hear more about your design and what exactly you needed to build it. I think it was a good idea to create Make-Your-Own-Light because it seems like it can be really affordable for developing countries especially since you use scrap copper which i would is easily accessible? I also think its really cool that you can use it to charge your own batteries and I also think you could develop this idea further! Good work!

    -Amanda C

  2. Hey Eliza! I loved your blog post and I think your project was pretty amazing over all! I am now a little sad that I couldn’t find your project at the school fair because of how busy things got. It must have been pretty frustrating that you could not find the last element for your design. But wow that guy at home depot was surely nice for staying with you and having a look at your project. Now having the experience of creating a project that generates electricity with the use of sunlight you should start thinking about selling your project to somebody that could need it. I know that I would buy something like that especially if it was made by a student. here is a little link that I found of people that sell their homemade items ( I thought that maybe you would like it. I also had a question of other problems that you encountered a long the way. I fell like your perseverance could inspire others to create items on their own. I wish you good luck as you continue experimenting and building things that could benefit those around you. – Monica Martinez

  3. Your project seems very interesting. It it exciting when your design and product come to life, and actually works in the end! I know by reading this, that you were stressed out trying to get your product to work how you want it to. Can you say that all that work paid off? To me it seems like it was a total success! And it is cool that you can actually charge batteries, and 4 hours it actually fast to fully charge batteries. It will be cool if you can charge more than batteries, like phone and other devices. This may be a future product to further in next years class. – Deanna W

  4. I think that it’s incredible that you were able to create a station out of recycled/green materials and solar panels. It’s cool that you decided to tackle an issue that is actually prevalent in developing countries yet curable, and I liked that you made an effort to use materials that these developing countries can easily access. I think joining a non-profit who’s goals are similar to yours would be great, maybe you could even share your product and those non-profit groups could continue to improve it even further to benefit the communities that desperately need light. Perhaps other sources of energy besides solar panels can be used, such as a crank system or portable wind system? Overall your project was great and you can really tell a lot of time and effort went into this, great job!
    -Daisy H

  5. I love how your idea originated from your desire to create a solution to impoverished countries. The idea of using scrap metal, and materials that are available is genius. Your idea also while may be difficult to implement, isn’t entirely impossible. These countries don’t have electricity and you recognized that you cannot just give them that, but you provided a solution to the little things they do have access to. Like the radio and flashlights, the little things that make doing homework or living a little more comfortably. I hope that you do participate in organizations that will help provide energy to people living in those circumstances, one person makes a great difference.
    Gabriela R.

  6. Dear Eliza,
    I really enjoyed your small presentation we did in class it showed you have a lot of compassion for your project . I’m really interested in weather you plan on taking a trip to down there to see the real world outlook on the issue it has , and if so you could maybe even do a documentary on it to share with non-profits so they can pick up the idea . I really enjoy seeing project that are made to help others because it really embodies what our schools mission statement is . But on a personal note you should be really proud of all you have accomplished with you project since you did work alone during our hectic senior year. If you continue on this project I wish you the best of luck with all of your success.

    -Kaiyla Washington

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