ABU DHABI // Holding a hairdryer over rows of knotted metal, Saif al Ateeqi demonstrated to onlookers how the hot air produced enough energy to light a small lamp.
By also fanning up cool air through the collection of iron and constantan, a copper-nickel alloy, the opposing currents distribute the electrons in the metals, creating a thermoelectric generator.
"This can be used for cars, refrigerators, air conditioners, exhaust systems," said Saif, a Grade 12 pupil at Glenelg School of Abu Dhabi. "In a hot place like Abu Dhabi, it can be very useful."
He was among about 200 high-school pupils who presented projects ranging from clean energy to water conservation at the second annual Emirates Science Fair, held yesterday at the Abu Dhabi Armed Forces Officers Club.
The winners of the event, sponsored jointly by the Abu Dhabi Education Council and the philanthropic organisation the Emirates Foundation, are scheduled to be announced today.
Science fairs are a staple of school life worldwide, a chance for the engineers and physicists of the future to hone their calculating minds. And the Abu Dhabi fair featured a wide range of fields - biology, chemistry, physics, geology and environmental projects -to test the next generation of scientists.
Wadeema al Nayadi, a Grade 10 pupil at Al Shohub Private School, designed a water system that prevents overuse by dividing the resources into tablets and using sensors that monitor water pressure.Her classmates designed similar water distribution systems, as well as solar-powered street lamps, one with a sensor that would save energy when not in use.
"We are aware that some resources such as water are scarce, especially in the UAE, and we wanted to make something that could help conserve them," Wadeema said.
Several projects used the galvanic cell technique to build batteries, including one with local seawater. The salinity reacts to zinc and aluminium to create an electrical current strong enough to power a small motor.
"Here in the Emirates, it is important to look at ways to create energy without pollution, and that can be used with seawater that is very much available," said Ahmed Ali Ali, a 12th grader at Al Abbas bin Abdul Mutaleb Secondary School for Boys.
Not all of the projects were focused on energy or the environment. Pupils from Abdul Jaleel al Fahim Primary School built a remote-controlled vacuum cleaner on wheels, which they said could help people with disabilities. A pupil from Al Hosn Secondary School for Boys in Al Shamkha linked a smoke detector to an electric door lock, bell and fire exit sign.
"This idea will stop the habit of having fire exits used when there is not a fire and then cause them to be locked when there is an emergency," said Abdulrahman al Ali, a 12th grader. Such technology already exists but his product is affordable to make at a cost of Dh330, he said.
He was not the only pupil pitching his product as ready for market. Abdullah al Jabri and Saeed Abdullah al Sharif, both in Grade 11 science at Al Dahma'a Model School, created a remote-controlled magnetic machine for mixing dangerous concoctions from as far away as 150 metres.
Magnetic plates spinning inside the machine's motor react to a magnetic object placed in a jar.
"If you are mixing chemical compounds or dangerous products that are contaminated for humans, then this machine is the perfect solution," Saeed said.