One possibility for generating electricity is to harness the motion in raindrops. What might surprise you (as it did me) is that an award-winning idea on how to do this comes from an 18-year-old woman.

Ceren Bur├žak Dag, 18, of Nisantasi, Turkey, won The Stockholm Junior Water Prize, sponsored globally by ITT Corporation and announced Tuesday at World Water Week in Stockholm. Dag won the prize for her research on harnessing rainwater to produce electricity. She carried out a theoretical study to discover the diameter, terminal velocity and height that would be required for falling water drops to generate an electric pulse through "piezoelectricity."

I admit I did look up "piezoelectricity," on Wikipedia. Piezoelectricity means "the ability of some materials (notably crystals and certain ceramics, including bone) to generate an electric potential in response to applied mechanical stress." The piezoelectric effect can be used produce and detect sounds, and can be the ignition source for cigarette lighters and push-start propane barbecues, Wikipedia says.

Dag receives a $5,000 award and an expense-paid trip to Orlando, Fla., in October, to present her findings at the World Environment Federation annual conference, the largest water quality and technology event in North America.

Dag explained her hopes for her research by saying, "[With this project] we have a new energy source from rain. I hope that my work will contribute to the development of the next generation of energy panels where rain, sun and wind are combined."

The jury also awarded diplomas of excellence to two other young women. Emily Elhacham, of Israel, was recognized for a project that showed how inexpensive and easy-to-manufacture sensors can detect low concentrations of common pollutants. Mary Yiyue Zhao, of Canada, received an award for a project that explored an environmentally friendly way to produce rain in dry regions.

The Stockholm Junior Water Prize is presented each year to high-school age students for outstanding water-related projects that focus on topics of environmental, scientific, social or technological importance. Winners of 29 national competitions competed for the international honor, which was awarded by an international jury of water professionals and scientists. The prize is administered by the Stockholm International Water Institute.

"These projects underscore the importance of involving the next generation in scientific research and taking action to find solutions to today's water and energy challenges," commented Gretchen McClain, president of the commercial business unit of ITT.

That's certainly a statement with which most would agree. It's also exciting to see three, basically unknown young women from different corners of the world recognized for scientific research that may one day result in more clean water around the world.