It seemed a bit early, but in May of this year Popular Science magazine published its top 10 choices for the 2015 Invention Awards - a "celebration of independent inventors."
The winners are:
- A plane that folds into a car
- Needle-free vaccination
- A Braille printer born from LEGO
- Personal pollution monitor
- Hands-on virtual reality
- A self-balancing vehicle
- An artificial reef for any seafloor
- Medical lab in a music box
- A printer for circuit boards
- A frying pan that teaches you to cook
Each invention has a link to a page with a short article about the inventor(s), what the invention does and how it works.
Link to the awards: http://www.popsci.com/2015-invention-awards
The information for 4 of the inventions includes a bullet-point list of "How it Works," with a diagram of the invention. The 4 inventions are the plane that folds into a car, the self-balancing vehicle, the artificial reef for any seafloor, and the medical lab in a music box.
I thought the frying pan that teaches you to cook sounded pretty interesting, but my mechanical engineering students chose to read about the plane-car. The invention, which is called AeroMobil Car, was invented by Štefan Klein and Juraj Vaculik of the AeroMobil Company.
|The AeroMobil Car from the company's website|
The information under "How it Works" is a very useful example of a short, clear technical description. From the website:
- The adjustable wing can optimize its angle of attack for taking off or cruising. This allows for reduced speed and distance during takeoff.
- Light materials, including a carbon-composite body over a steel airframe and six-pound carbon wheels, keep weight low.
- The prototype's 100-horsepower four-cylinder Rotax 912 engine runs on conventional gasoline, so drivers can fuel up at existing gas stations. (Production models may have a different engine.)
- A robust suspension will enhance on-road performance and enable takeoff and landing on relatively rough terrain.
- Avionics from Garmin will include a two-axis autopilot to control pitch and roll. In case of emergency, the vehicle will have a ballistic parachute safety system.
There's more information about the AeroMobil Car on the company's website:
Students could get more information from the website to report to the class. On the website there is also a video (3:52) showing how the car opens to a plane and then flies. There's no narration, just background music. It's actually quite lovely to watch.