What if a machine could convert smog to energy? What if that energy powered the machine to clean up more smog? Sisters Cynthia and Katie Wu from American High School in Fremont imagined such a machine, called a "Smog Cloud Condenser" as part of the Chabot Space & Science Center's Green Machine Design Challenge.
The initiative challenges visitors to imagine new technologies that improve the environment. Visitors sketch out their designs on graph paper and submit them for consideration. Museum staff then review all submissions, choosing some to be featured in Bill Nye's Climate Lab, the museum's top floor exhibit.
The sisters were inspired to make their machine to address global warming challenges, undaunted by the fact that others have not yet solved the problem. Katie points out, "This technology doesn't exist yet, but what would happen is smog goes into the tube and condenses and through some process turns into something good." Cynthia adds, "It collects the smog in the sky and turns it into energy. It condenses the pollution in the smog cloud and recycles it for energy."
Katie and Cynthia's design was chosen by Chabot's staff to be made into a 3D model as inspiration to other visitors. Artist Todd Kundla took up the challenge of fabricating the design. According to Kundla, "The Cloud Condenser captured my attention with its uniquely shaped structures as well as its alluring concept. Something about the 'not knowing' all of the details of how this invention worked was curiously enjoyable. Freed from the science of the machine and concentrating on its aesthetic was liberating."
Tamara Schwarz, Chabot's Senior Manager of Experience Design notes, "inventions happen in the mind before they ever happen in real life. We hope to inspire creativity and encourage our visitors to dream up new solutions to challenges that haven't yet been met."
Details about Chabot Space & Science Center and the new Green Machine exhibit can be found here: http://www.chabotspace.org/assets/visit-the-center/exhibits/bill-nye/design-challenge-flyer.pdf