When I participated in my 7th-grade school science fair, I expected it to start and end with that. However, following a conference my science teacher attended, she pushed me to submit my project to National Geographic as part of their Engineering Exploration Challenge. The gist of the challenge was to find a way for Nat-Geo photographers to recharge their gear while in the field, and do so in an environmentally friendly way.
For my project, I had created a proof of concept for a shoe sole that charged your phone (or any USB device). I used piezoelectric discs to trickle charge a battery, which could then later be used in devices. Although I admit the prototype wasn’t much more than a functional science demonstration, the concept was sound (as demonstrated by my win of not only my school science fair but the regional fair as well).
I was thrilled to find out that I was chosen as one of four international winners of the challenge, and was given an opportunity to speak on a live stream broadcasted internationally about my project.