China Spring Middle School student Timmy Reid was named one of the top 300 competitors in the ninth annual Broadcom Masters, a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) competition for middle school students.
As a seventh-grader last school year, his innovative idea for keeping a pacemaker operating without batteries won first place in his category at the Texas Science and Engineering Fair.
Timmy, a student of Rachel Stolle, won first in the Energy: Chemical division at the fair at Texas A&M University in College Station. His winning project was “Using Alternative Energy Source to Power Medical Devices.”
Even high-tech pacemakers require maintenance surgeries for the patient every few years to change the lithium batteries that power the device. Having additional surgeries sometimes leads to complications and infections.
Timmy discovered a way to use naturally occurring chemicals in the body to self-power the pacemaker. In a YouTube video on the project, he created a functional fuel cell using Shewanella electrogenic bacteria that produced as much as 90 watts of power and did so for several months.
Using a resistor, he generated 28 microwatts produced by the bacteria, noting that was more than the 4 microwatts a pacemaker needs to operate.
Thirty of the top 300 Broadcom Masters competitors were selected as finalists by a panel of scientists, engineers and educators and will travel to Washington, D.C., to compete in a four-day STEM competition in late October. Timmy did not advance to the finalist level.
The Broadcom Masters program seeks to inspire young scientists, engineers and innovators to solve the “grand challenges” of the 21st century.
The top 300 were selected from a pool of 2,348 applicants from 47 states. the District of Columbia and two U.S. territories.