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ROCHESTER, Minn. – An eighth grader’s science project is now saving some hearing aid wearers big bucks.

Ethan Manuell, a middle school student at Rochester Central Lutheran, struggles to close his locker, but has made a major medical discovery.

When Ethan’s teacher assigned her students the task of creating a project for the science fair, Ethan began thinking about his toys and his hearing aid.

“It’s a robotic bug- all it does is vibrate,” he said.

Using those bugs, Ethan found that zinc hearing aid batteries last longer the longer they are exposed to air after removing the tab.

“With waiting five minutes, you can increase the lifespan by 85 percent,” Manuell told KARE.

Some hearing aid battery packets say that for best results, the battery should sit un-tabbed for one minute.

By carefully monitoring how long the batteries lasted in the toy bugs, Ethan came up with his five-minute rule.

Now, Ethan’s audiologist is telling all of her patients about the discovery.

“In the real hearing aid world, it’s translating to hearing aids, the battery in the hearing aid lasting one to two days longer, which is a huge impact for people wearing hearing aids because the batteries typically only last five to seven days as it is. So if you can increase it by another day, that is huge,” said Dr. Mary Meier.

Seven million Americans wear hearing aids and it is estimated that his discovery could save the average hearing aid user about $70 a year.

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