By Chrislyn Barnes
Tyler Lyon and Daniel Reese remember spending many of their days after school looking for things to repair or build.
?One of the big things that brought us together was when we were younger we would have these ?nerd fests? where we would talk about new technology and innovations,? said Lyon, a senior at Riverton High School. ?That is what we knew and what we understood.?
The two neighbors recall a time when, as eighth-graders, their curious, scientific minds led them to build a bridge over the canal that separated their yards. They used any scrap material they could find and were able to build a somewhat stable bridge, Lyon said.
Unfortunately, their projects never lasted long, like the bridge that was found destroyed shortly after its completion. These setbacks did not stop them from continuing their efforts to build things.
The bridge was one of the many projects that trained Lyon and Reese to be the award winning science team they are today.
At the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair last week, the two seniors from Riverton High School received a $50,000 scholarship when their newly invented car air conditioner won the favor of hundreds of judges.
High school students from over 40 countries competed with their award winning science fair projects at the international fair, held in Phoenix.
Lisa Clarke, a staff member in the Department of Integrative Biology at BYU who attended the fair with the students, said, ?We are glad they were recognized for the work they did. These boys really wanted that award and so we are very glad they got it.?
In March, Lyon and Reese?s project won the grand prize at the Central Utah Science and Engineering Fair, sponsored by the McKay School of Education, that gave them the opportunity to compete in the international fair.
The international fair judges chose the project because it was based on principles that increase environmentally friendly businesses, Clarke said.
The air conditioner, Reese said, is different from what cars currently have because it does not require the use of Freon, which scientists have proven to be an ozone-depleting chemical. It also does not need the engine because it operates by electricity.
This project, unlike many of their earlier attempts, took more planning, time and effort, Lyon and Reese said.
?We wanted to do something that was more than blowing baking soda out of a volcano,? Reese said.
Their invention process began when they were working on another project that dealt with steam generating electricity, Lyon said.
While looking through a magazine they came across the peltier effect, which is a heating mechanism that has a cooling effect on one side and a heating effect on the other. They became very interested in it and decided they would use it for their next project.
While still learning about the peltier effect, Reese said they were given a suggestion by a friend?s grandfather to improve the efficiency of air conditioners in cars.
?We realized then that we could merge the two ideas, using the peltier effect to improve the air conditioner,? Lyon said.
They started their project by turning Lyon?s mother?s craft room into a workshop, and used their computer and science knowledge to create the desired product.
The students used the peltier chip to build the more efficient air conditioner, Reese said. The chip is used in drinking water dispensers in homes and offices, and provides hot or cold water from the same source.
The students did the majority of the project on their own, but received help and support from teachers at their high school.
?I encouraged them and answered simple questions,? said Kari Lewis, a physics teacher at Riverton High School. ?I also showed them the award and told them to go for it when it was first introduced to me. This project however, is completely theirs.?
Lyon said they will continue to improve their device and plan to get it patented and on the market.
The two scientists said they are excited for the opportunity they have to use this scholarship to further their education. Both have decided to serve their missions first, though, and will decide if they will use the scholarship for undergraduate or graduate school when they return.
?Aside from being great scientist and engineers, they are good kids,? said Lewis. ?They live lives of integrity and that is something that is hard to find in students anymore.?