Spotlight on Lily Colson: 5th Grade Entrepreneur
At just 10 years old, Lily Colson has proved that age does not matter when it comes to fantastic ideas – she was the winner of Stanley Black & Decker’s Sustainability Award at the National Invention Convention. This Maker Month, we chatted with Lily about her outstanding “Solar Lines” invention and why creations like hers are so important for the future of the planet:
Have you always been interested in making and creating things?
Yes, I’ve been interested in making things since I was very young. I entered my first Invention Convention in second grade. The following year, my teacher really helped me understand the process better, and I felt more prepared by the time I entered the competition this year. I’m particularly inspired by people who are creating products that are environmentally-friendly.
Can you tell us more about how you came up with the idea for Solar Lines?
I worked super hard to come up with this invention. I faced lots of difficult challenges along the way but I kept working hard to improve my invention and be the best I could be.
In my research I found that 89% of the energy we use is non-renewable and those energy sources, such as coal and petroleum, are also harmful to the environment, so I wanted to find a solution that provides energy without harming the earth.
Solar Lines are power lines with flexible solar panels wrapped around them, with a battery pack added to the side. This invention combines both the generation and the distribution of energy. It is designed to make solar power more accessible and affordable for everyone, so we can increase the use of solar energy and decrease the impacts of climate change.
What made you interested in solar power and helping to reduce the impact of climate change?
I’ve always liked the idea of using the sun to generate energy. When I learned about climate change, I wanted to do something to help. It’s a worldwide problem and we need to address it.
There were almost 500 participants at the last National Invention Convention. Why do you think the judges picked your idea as a winner?
The competition this year was extremely high, but I was determined never to give up and just keep getting better and better. During my research, I spoke with two solar power specialists and discovered that my invention was unique. You can put solar panels on your house, but they are expensive and only power your house, and you can get solar power from solar farms, but they take up lots of space. Solar lines don’t take up any more space than power lines do, and they will increase the amount of clean, renewable energy that we use and help reduce the impact of climate change which affects everyone all over the world.
Where would you see your invention being used in the future?
Anyone who gets power from the power lines can use my invention. I think the reason we use so little solar power is because people don’t have access to it. If it was available, people would use it. Solar Lines will make solar power available to everyone so everyone can use this clean, renewable source of energy.
What advice would you give to other children who are interested in making and inventing?
I would really encourage them to make and invent, and to keep trying and improving – and to enter the Invention Convention. Also don’t be afraid to fail and never give up.
How are initiatives like Maker Month from Stanley Black & Decker and competitions like the Invention Convention helping young makers?
Whether it’s a full competition or a few days where you can go and invent, it’s really helpful to have this kind of support for young makers. These competitions are really fun and they can help people become interested in inventing and give them the help they need to get started.
For more inspiring Maker Month stories, please visit https://www.stanleyblackanddecker.com/social-responsibility/maker-month