It's a common problem that commuters face in the early mornings and late afternoons, the bright sun at such a low angle that drivers can't use flipped down visors to block it. That leaves them squinting or using their hands to shield their eyes in order to see the road.
Carolyn Mennecke's animated video showing how the use of ultra-violet sensors in windshields could combat that problem won the teenager from Rochester, Minn., a trip to Tuesday's Hollywood premiere of Disney's new animated feature "Big Hero 6"
Mennecke, a senior at Century High School, was one of six winners of the XPRISE-Disney Big Hero 6 Challenge, a national contest that asked 8- to 17-year-olds to use creativity to tackle big challenges using science, technology, engineering, art or mathematics.
With help from her sisters, Bethany and Rebecca, Carolyn created a 2:17 animated video showing how a small see-through screen made of pixels could block out the blinding of the sun and eliminate the dawn and dusk glare. Light sensors at the edges would be used to triangulate the position of the sun in relation to the driver and passenger to block out a portion of the sun, thus improving the occupants' ability to see.
"They have sunglasses that do the same thing," she said. "With some technology, we could have that in windshields."
Mennecke was one of more than 200 teens who submitted entries. She had been interested in animation and had been getting more confident with it, she said, When she learned of the competition through a Facebook posting, "I figured I might as well put the skills to the test."
Mennecke found out she won when her entire family showed up at her after-school job holding a sign that said "L.A."
"I was a bit confused. They don't all come to pick me up from work," the teenager said. "Then I saw the video camera and realized I had won This makes me feel pretty good."
Mennecke said she plans to pursue a career in animation.
Mennecke left for California on Sunday. In addition to taking in the Disney premiere, she was rewarded with a tour of Disney's animation studios Monday.