Park City student’s science fair project featured at the Leonardo
Emma Greally has worked on bike-powered battery for years
For three years, Emma Greally, a seventh-grader at Ecker Hill Middle School, has earned accolades for a science fair project that aims to create renewable energy through pedaling a bicycle.
And she recently earned something else: a bigger audience. Greally’s project was featured in an exhibit at the Leonardo Museum in Salt Lake City over the weekend, offering another chance to show off the bike she’s been working on since she was in fifth grade.
“I’m really grateful because it’s such an amazing opportunity,” she said in an interview last week. “It’s an amazing museum. I’m just really, really happy to be able to go there.”
Greally said she first became interested in renewable energy when her younger brother, Connor, came home talking about it one day after learning about the topic in school. She set about creating her own source of renewable energy and came up with a bicycle that powers a 12-volt battery connected to a converter that allows users to plug in things like cell phone and computer charges.
She was immediately successful, advancing from the Park City School District science fair to the Salt Lake Valley Science and Engineering Fair three years ago, a feat she has repeated each of the last two years.
The project, though, has evolved considerably over that time, Greally said. In fact, an early mishap nearly derailed it altogether. She originally built the set-up without fuses or a voltage regulator, causing the battery to explode one day when she was trying to charge it.
Her mother, Janice Ugaki, said Greally’s decision to continue working on the bike after that made it clear she was intent upon perfecting it.
“A lot of people, including myself, would have quit then and said, ‘You know what? I don’t want to blow up the house,’” Ugaki said. “Instead, she looked at it and said, ‘I’m going to make it better next year so it doesn’t blow up the house.’ For a few months, it sat with some singed wires, but then she started from scratch again. It’s been wonderful for the whole family to watch it come to life.”
Despite earning the recognition from the Leonardo, Greally said the project still isn’t complete. She envisions building several of the bicycles and installing them in places such as airports, physical therapy offices and other places people might want to exercise and create energy at the same time.
“I think it’s very fun to be able to go onto the bicycle and know you are creating energy,” she said. “Every percent of battery you’re putting into your phone or your computer, you made it yourself. I think that’s just really cool.”
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