Einstein Science Reporting for Kids
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Contact: Science Press Package
American Association for the Advancement of Science

Generate electricity while you walk

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Scientists have invented a backpack that collects electricity when you walk. This electricity could power a flashlight, a cell phone, night vision goggles, a water purifier, or a combination of these and other electronics all at the same time.

All the person wearing the backpack has to do is walk. The backpack, which must be pretty heavy, does the rest.

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The backpack looks a lot like the sturdy backpacks people often take with them out into the wilderness on long trips. The main difference is that, in the new backpack, the compartment that holds all the stuff moves up and down with each step while the frame stays pretty steady. The energy is captured from these up and down movements of the pack and converted to electricity by a generator mounted on the top of the backpack.

Backpacks with this new design may eventually show up on the backs of kids around the world, explained backpack inventor Larry Rome. It seems that having books and other the heavy backpack contents move up and down with each step spreads out the weight of your pack in a way that might be more comfortable or even less stressful for your back.

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Backpack designer Larry Rome and his colleagues describe their research in the 09 September 2005 issue of Science. Rome works at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, PA and Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA.