Fernie local and youth activist, Aislinn Dressler, was a finalist at this year’s Youth Innovation Showcase (YIS).
Tasked to create a science fair project as part of her science curriculum at The Fernie Academy, Dressler, a recently graduated student, designed an energy efficient fridge and freezer. After submitting the design to the YIS, Dressler was selected as one of 14 finalists, out of a total of 62 entries.
Bringing ideas to life, the YIS is a program giving British Columbian and Yukon youth a chance to pitch innovative solutions and products to a panel of industry experts. Connecting students with mentors at the top of their field, the showcase guides participants in creating a business plan for innovations in the realm of technology, science and medicine.
Inspiration for the project hit when Dressler’s home fridge broke in February, forcing her family to place leftover food in outdoor bins. The incident had her considering the idea of using outdoor air to increase fridge and freezer efficiency while also reducing cost. Her Cool By Nature innovation uses a tube to replace the regular coil cooling system in refrigerators with winter air, lowering overall energy consumption.
“With climate change being a huge threat to our world, I believe that it is crucial that every aspect of our lives be looked at through an eco-lense of improvement,” said Dressler. “This means that everyday items should be examined to see if there are ways to reduce their impact. I also think this project has the potential to save individuals a lot of money. With my estimates, this product would only cost about $100 to install and it would save around $100 per year per fridge with Fernie’s temperatures. The return on investment therefore occurs after only one year.”
Competing in a live virtual competition held on June 10, Dressler pitched her idea to a panel of industry leaders for the chance to receive $5,000. Having participated in both her school science fair and the East Kootenay Regional Science Fair, Dressler was supposed to attend the National Science Fair in Edmonton before it was cancelled. She is grateful for the chance to be a finalist at the YIS, as it offered her the opportunity to receive feedback from industry experts. Hoping to take her innovation further, Dressler seeks to eventually prototype and patent her fridge and freezer.
According to Madeleine Guenette, executive director of the Science Fair Foundation, the finalists were selected based off their ability to communicate and pitch their design, alongside the ingenuity of their idea and the marketability and viability of their innovation. Previous finalists have even gone on to create real products currently in the marketplace.
“We encourage all youth with a great idea or a passion for innovation to take part in the showcase, even if their idea is still at the early stages or not fully formed,” said Guenette. “We are here to guide you through the process and connect you with the resources you need.”
Run by The Science Fair Foundation of BC alongside partners and sponsors including the Royal Bank of Canada Foundation and the Ted Rogers Community Grant, the YIS also hosts tech talks and virtual workshops for youth, further exposing them to innovation occurring throughout the two provinces.