Aaron Goldin this week won the grand prize at the Siemens Westinghouse Competition in Math, Science and Technology for his invention that harnesses the ocean -- 70 percent of the world's surface -- to create energy.
"I call [it] 'gyro-gen,' and it generates electricity from the power of rolling ocean surface waves," said the 17-year-old high school student from Encinitas, Calif.
Goldin, who loves to tinker in his family's garage, used parts from an old answering machine, tape recorder and computer printer to make a spinning gyroscope. When floated on the ocean -- inside a buoy, for example -- and rocked back and forth by the waves, it converts the waves' power into electricity.
Goldin and his dad traveled to Washington where -- competing against 1,200 high school students from all over the country -- he presented his invention to a panel of leading scientists.
"It's fun," said Goldin. "It's an intellectual exercise. It's something that you can do that really forces you to look at things in a different way, and it's a very fulfilling activity to be able to try new things and discover new things."
Goldin was awarded a $100,000 scholarship to any university he wishes to attend.
"When you have a goal," said Goldin, "when you have an end in mind and you finally have created something, it's really fun to actually see it work."
The judges found him to be incredibly creative and passionate.
"His eyes light up when he's talking about technology," said Roger Falcone, professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley. "He has an enthusiasm that he brings to his work that is absolutely unique."
When not solving the world's energy problems, Goldin listens to classical music, plays trombone in a jazz group and enjoys composing music on his piano.
As for the future, Goldin still has the dreaded college applications to finish. Perhaps one day, his invention, which he was smart enough to patent, will change the world.
"I hope in the future to see not just solar, not just wind, not just ocean or nuclear power but as many ideas as possible, some things that we may not even realize now would be a possible source of energy," he said. "I think that anything new is valuable."
ABC News' Peter Jennings filed this report for "World News Tonight."