Nineteen-year-old Eden Full is going to be taking a few years off from her studies at Princeton. That's because she's been getting a ton of grants to finish developing her SunSaluter, a technology that allows solar panels to track the sun, boosting output by 40 percent.

Reader support helps sustain our work. Donate today to keep our climate news free. All donations TRIPLED!

Unlike other devices that let solar panels move to follow the sun, the SunSaluter doesn't use a motor — instead, it turns because the different metals it's made of expand in the sun at different rates. That means Full's invention is about 1/60th as expensive as traditional solar trackers — $10 versus $600 — and simple enough to be maintained by kids in developing communities.

Here's Eden on why she does what she does:

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

My parents instilled a sense of responsibility towards the environment when I was younger and I carried this value with me throughout my life. I had the opportunity to travel to the Canadian Arctic two years ago where I witnessed the depressing lack of sea ice as a result of climate change, which made it hard for animals to find food and land. On a Zodiac boat ride, I had a chance to get within five metres of a polar bear that was so desperately hungry he didn’t even bother to turn away from us. This was an emotional moment for me when I realised that I had a chance to help prevent this problem from getting worse. I would have to help with the reduction of CO2 emissions.