13-Year-Old Discovers Way to Make Solar Energy More Efficient

13-Year-Old Discovers Way to Make Solar Energy More Efficient

Young naturalist Aidan Dwyer applied the Fibonacci sequence, a mathematical principle found in nature, to solar panels and discovered a way for them to produce 20 percent more energy.

Aidan was awarded a patent for his invention, and one more thing, he’s only 13 years old. The idea was sparked during a hiking trip Aidan took in the Catskill Mountains. He noticed the Fibonacci sequences among tree branches.

The sequence states, “Starting with the numbers 0 and 1, each subsequent number is the sum of the previous two – 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13…. These numbers, when put in ratios, happens to show up in the patterns of branches and leaves on trees.”

Aidan knew that tree leaves collected sunlight energy for photosynthesis similar to how solar panels take in energy. Therefore, he hypothesized and sought to find out whether their Fibronacci sequences helped them take in more sunlight and thus produce more energy.

Aidan’s hypothesis was correct, and he applied his findings to solar panels.

To sum up his conclusions, Aidan wrote,

The tree design takes up less room than flat-panel arrays and works in spots that don’t have a full southern view. It collects more sunlight in winter. Shade and bad weather like snow don’t hurt it because the panels are not flat. It even looks nicer because it looks like a tree. A design like this may work better in urban areas where space and direct sunlight can be hard to find.

Do you know a young naturalist who will also someday change the world? How do we keep kids engaged in science?