Original: Aidan Dwyer did a much better job on his 7th grade science project than any of us. While on a wintertime hike in the Catskills, he noticed the branches of trees held a spiral pattern as they ascended. He wondered if that could possibly serve some purpose, looked into it, and learned about the Fibonacci sequence, which is a mathematical way of describing a spiral. Then he studied tree branches more closely and found their leaves adhered to the sequence. Then he figured out that if he arranged solar panels the way an oak tree arranged its leaves, they were 20 to 50 percent more efficient than the standard straight-line solar arrays. That is why the American Museum of Natural History gave him a Young Naturalist award, and published his findings on its website. His write-up concludes:
The tree design takes up less room than flat-panel arrays and works in spots that don't have a full southern view. It collects more sunlight in winter. Shade and bad weather like snow don't hurt it because the panels are not flat. It even looks nicer because it looks like a tree. A design like this may work better in urban areas where space and direct sunlight can be hard to find.
Not bad for a kid who hasn't started high school yet.