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Anne Makosinski. "The inventor can be anyone."

What kind of child were you in childhood? Who did you want to become? Did you have an interest in science? Did your parents influence this?

My first toy was a box of transistors, and from there I became interested in piecing together “inventions” (that never worked initially!) using my hot glue gun and garbage from around the house. I also took apart a lot of old electronics that our local university would throw out. However, I also was obsessed with film - my first movie was Eisienstein’s Alexander Nevsky (1938) and from there I was raised watching a lot of silent films by Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd etcetera. I also played the piano, participated in speech competitions, and played every single kind of sport. I had many different interests, but when I was a kid the main professions I dreamed about entering were entomology, archeology, or film directing.

In a strict school system, it is difficult to find a place for fantasies and new inventions. How did you manage it? Does education in Canada contribute to the development of a craving for science? How are children's initiatives supported? I found it much more exciting and inspiring to pursue my inventing outside of the school system. I was very fortunate to go to a fantastic school, but I found doing textbook problems/homework for high school science classes a lot less engaging than more hands-on experiments, which I preferred. Participating in science fairs allowed me to research and learn about whatever area of science I was interested in, which was very freeing. The Canadian education system is certainly catching up to the current world - however I believe that the majority of educational systems around the world are behind when it comes to teaching current generations 21st Century Skills.

You got a smartphone only at the age of 18, and also spoke at TED with the topics "Why don't I use a smartphone"? How much time do you spend on your phone today? In your opinion, from how old is it best to give a smartphone to a child and why?

I think the majority of us struggle with having a healthy relationship with our smart phone, even I do! Each parent will have a different level of comfortability with how much technology they want to expose their child to, and I am not a parent yet so I cannot speak for that. However, I feel that if I were to have a kid right now, I would avoid giving them a cell phone until they were 16 or 17. I also don’t think it wise of parents to give their young children unlimited use on their iPads, television, or gaming consoles. It encourages passive entertainment, and barely engages their young minds. Best to give your child less, as it will encourage them to be more creative with whatever is around them.

Your ideas with a flashlight and e-drink are just amazing! How long have you been working on their creation and how did you come up with the ideas? Where are these inventions used today?

I had been making science fair projects in the area of alternative energy harvesting for many years while in middle and high school. One year, my friend in the Philippines told me that she had failed her grade in school because her family couldn’t afford electricity and she didn’t have any light to study with at night. I decided to try and create a solution for her, and ended up inventing the Hollow Flashlight, a flashlight that runs off the heat of the human hand. A couple years later, I invented the eDrink, a coffee mug that harvests the excess heat of your hot drinks and converts it into electricity, eventually being able to give your phone a boost of energy. The idea for the eDrink came from a couple problems my high school friends were facing - their coffee was taking too long to cool down, and their phones were always running out of battery. I have been able to acquire patents for both inventions, which was a very long and difficult process. I recently implemented my patented technology in a line of children's toys that run off of green energy, but due to some unfortunate circumstances, have had to let the project go. I will be starting some new inventions in 2022.

What problems/difficulties, in your opinion, exist now for young scientists in the field of science in the context of the world and a particular country? I hear a lot of engineers and other scientists are struggling to find jobs after university, which is very unfortunate, and they are subsequently also overqualified for a lot of other jobs that they could use just for income while job searching. I think more young scientists need to be even more proactive and put themselves out there, building their website, social media, Linkedin etcetera. It is a very competitive world, so anything that you can make that helps you stand out amongst the crowd is important.

In Russia, in the field of science, there are sometimes difficulties with the protection of intellectual property and patenting of developments among young scientists, how about this in your country? Did you immediately patent your invention? How does the procedure for patenting the intellectual property of a scientist take place in your country? The patenting process is extremely long. I am lucky to have multiple patents in Canada and America for both my flashlight and the eDrink. It is extremely expensive, and once you get the patents, you still have to pay maintenance fees to keep them valid. I was lucky to have my father to help keep everything on track, as well as a team of lawyers in Toronto. However, I would not recommend the patenting process unless you are truly set on licensing/commercializing your product (or determined to sell the patent itself) in the future.

Tell us about the fundraising system, is it popular in your country, do you use it yourself? How to find investments for your development? Do you appeal to businessmen? Or is it happening at the state level? I don’t have enough information/experience to answer this question.

Are there any ideas in development now? What do you do for a living now? Prior to December 2020, I had been working for two years on a line of children's toys that ran off of green energy. Due to some mistakes on my end, I have had to drop the project, but it was such an important learning experience in the business world that I do not mind letting it go. I will start working on some new invention ideas in 2022, but I am currently developing a new television show and writing a book about art and science. I also am still going to university to get my English Literature degree. Before Covid, I was travelling a lot to speak at conferences/events about inventing and my life, but it has all become virtual during this pandemic. You are working on a series of educational toys for children. Why was this category chosen for the implementation of their developments? What examples of toys are already ready or are in development? Will you teach your children to science from childhood?

Pass on this question. (Already discussed toys in previous questions)

Have you ever faced discrimination because you are a woman or still a fairly young girl in science? How have you coped and are coping with public opinion? I definitely had a lot of moments where I was not taken seriously (usually by men) because of my age, gender, and/or appearance. Even if I was flustered in the moment, I still managed to stand up for myself and who I was. I also used to worry about fitting into a certain perception that the public had of me or wanted me to be - until I realized that I would never be able to truly be a genuine version of myself if I walked around worrying what other people thought. I think it’s best to embrace all of yourself - your strengths and weaknesses - and be YOU! Living in New York has also taught me that it’s boring and disingenuous to try and fit in with what is considered “cool”, just be yourself and don’t concern yourself with what others think. By your example, you motivate hundreds of thousands of women to be true to their principles and engage in science. How do you manage it? What are you interested in besides science?

When I first started getting attention for my work back when I was fifteen years old, it was quite exciting but also intimidating. I had never considered myself a “science genius”, and still highly disagree with this label when it is applied to me. I am simply a curious person who took the resources around me and pieced them together to solve a problem. Anybody can be an inventor.

I understand that a lot of people look up to me, but I never try to represent myself as someone who is perfect - I’m also human, and constantly learning from my mistakes! It is a great honour to have inspired so many women, especially younger girls, to become interested in inventing. I have always had a balance of interests in both the sciences and arts, and I hope to pursue some of my interests in film and writing in the next few years.

What are the prospects for the development of science and technology in the 5.0 Industry, in your opinion? Young people in my generation are looking to be their own boss, have a lot more autonomy when it comes to their lives and work, and also work at a job that feels like it has a real purpose/is making a positive difference in the world. I think a lot of AI and robots etc. will take over a lot of more “menial” jobs that don’t provide as much emotional fulfillment to humans, which is really wonderful. BUT we will need to train people for new kinds of jobs, for servicing the AI and robots etc. I think we will have to be quite wary of how fast the AI is advancing, so it does not control us.. Some argue already that we are completely controlled by our dependency on technology, but I think it’s about learning to have a healthy relationship with using it as a tool. 3 tips that you could give to young scientists who are engaged in science now! 1) Stand up for yourself when you are in unfair situations, don’t be afraid or hesitant to speak up.

2) Never give up - if you have a seemingly “crazy” dream of what you want to achieve, just keep working every day towards it. You have to be your own biggest cheerleader, and believe deep down that you can achieve anything you put your mind to.

3) You never know what you can get until you just ASK! Ask for help, assistance, advice, resources etcetera. Older people will see a younger version of themselves in you, and more often than not will be willing to give a helping hand!


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