Austin advances to International Science Fair
When Austin Dutenhoeffer had a great idea, a light bulb literally came on.
He put together a science project called Alternative Energy Distribution in which he designed an operating Tesla coil as an alternative source of wireless electrical transmission. Using the Tesla coil’s electromagnetic field as the source of power, he demonstrated how the coil transmits wireless electrical energy by holding a standard light bulb within the electromagnetic field and the bulb light up.
On Thursday, March 27, he took his project to Aberdeen to competed at the Northern SD Science and Math Fair (NSDSMF) and won a trip to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Los Angeles, CA.
He competed in the Senior Division, Engineering/Computer Science/Mathematics Category with the operating Tesla coil.
A Tesla coil is an electrical resonant transformer circuit invented by Nicola Tesla around 1891. Tesla used his invention to conduct innovative experiments in electrical lighting and the transmission of electrical energy without wires, plus many other experiments. Today their main use is for educational displays and entertainment.
The project originated with nothing but curiosity, when Dutenhoeffer saw a video online and wondered if he could build something like the Tesla coil that he saw. A demonstration of the coil makes one think of a movie scene from a mad scientist’s laboratory — arcs of electricity zapped around the coil, as Dutenhoeffer stood about six feet away holding a light bulb, which illuminated.
He said the experience taught him that a person really can do whatever he sets his mind to learn to do.
Dutenhoeffer was the only student from Gettysburg High School who participated in the science fair, which included 300 projects from 18 schools. Following the preliminary judging and interview process, he was awarded first place in the Senior Division Engineering/Computer Science/Mathematics category, an Intel Excellence in Computer Science Award Certificate and $200, and was chosen to attend the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) May 11-16 in Los Angeles, CA, as the NSDSMF Student Observer. Intel ISEF is the world’s largest international pre-college science competition for more than 1600 high school students from over 70 countries, regions, and territories.
Other NSDSMF winners traveling to ISEF competition in Los Angeles are Darienne Frericks of Northwestern High School, Emma Johnson of Aberdeen Central High School, and Marc Seitz and John Wieland, team project, of Aberdeen Central High School.
Dutenhoeffer’s science teacher and adviser is Mrs. Kathy Heffernan. He is the son of Eric Dutenhoeffer and Tricia Dutenhoeffer of Gettysburg.
-compiled by Molly McRoberts