Junior Reporters: 3M Young Scientist Challenge

September 7, 2019

Xyza Junior Reporters were curious: How’d you come up with that idea? That’s ideas such as planting hydroponic trees in the ocean, controlling room temperatures of unoccupied rooms in a house with an airflow control robot, turning sign language gestures into verbal language through a talking device, and more!

Earlier this year, 3M, the company known for making things like Post-Its and tape, asked young people attending 5th through 8th grades to share their idea for solving an everyday problem. Thousands of students entered; ten were chosen as this year’s finalists.

Check out what the finalists had to say when our Junior Reporter Daisy H. asked a simple question: How’d you come up with that idea?

Jaya Choudhary via @youngscientistlab

Finalist: Jaya Choudhary

Idea: An airflow control robot that helps control temperatures of unoccupied rooms in the house

Answer: I’ve seen in the news that there is an increase in the frequency and intensity of natural disasters, resulting in injuries, fatalities and destruction of property. Upon researching the matter, I found that this is caused mainly by climate change, the result of greenhouse gases accumulating in the atmosphere. One of the main sources of greenhouse gases is power generation, and residential energy consumption is the largest usage of power in the United States. One-third of the energy we use at home is wasted. If we cut the waste, the emissions will go down, thus slowing the impact of climate change.

Caroline Crouchley via @youngscientistlab

Finalist: Caroline Crouchley

Idea: A sustainable transportation system

Answer: I enjoyed experimenting with magnets growing up and more recently I learned about the power of magnets and what they are capable of. The development of rare earth magnets makes my idea possible. I combined my interest in magnets with pneumatic tube technology to invent a new train technology that has never been thought of before – one that has the potential to be the world’s lightest, fastest, most efficient train, and a much less expensive and safer technology than the Hyperloop.

Kara Fan via @youngscientistlab

Finalist: Kara Fan

Idea: A nano particle liquid bandage to replace the use of antibiotics

Answer: A few years ago, my grandma had a Urinary tract infection (UTI) with a high fever and was taken to the emergency room. Fortunately, the doctor gave her some antibiotics and saved her life. Since then, I have been interested in antibiotic medicine and have done some readings on this amazing drug. However, I also learned that bacteria are growing resistance to the antibiotics due to over-use and misuse of the drug.

Reshma Kosaraju via @youngscientistlab

Finalist: Reshma Kosaraju

Idea: A model using machine learning to predict and prevent forest fires

Answer: My idea came from a problem that I encountered and researched. California has always been a wildfire-prone state. After moving to California in 2018, we encountered one of the largest wildfires in California history. After researching the problem, I learned that 2018 was a particularly devastating year pertaining to loss of lives, property and environmental damage. I decided that something needed to be done about this problem.

Nishant Lahiri via @youngscientistlab

Finalist: Nishant Lahiri

Idea: A way to extract carbon dioxide from the air and recycle it into volcanic rock

Answer: Climate change has become a big issue in our world. It is a heavily documented and much debated subject in the media. They speak of the disastrous consequences of global warming, and yet there is pushback due to the perceived economic hardship and sacrifice to combat it. I wanted to help. I love nature and I could not bear to think that it could be destroyed by us. If only I could help in a way that got everyday people involved in an everyday way—that’s what led to iCART.

Jordan Prawira via @youngscientistlab

Finalist: Jordan Prawira

Idea: A better and more efficient wind turbine

Answer: Living near the Altamont pass wind farm inspired me with its windy situation. High wind speeds moving in a curved and turbulent motion create too much drag for the turbines. I learned about hurricane formation concepts from a meteorology event at Science Olympiad, and they inspired me to create my wind turbine. Hurricanes are storm systems with low-pressure centers and high pressure around the outside, causing the wind to spiral inward in the shape of the logarithmic spiral. I applied the hurricane’s logarithmic spiral concept in modifying an Archimedes wind turbine to help increase the power and efficiency to produce electricity. At the same time, the Logarithmic wind turbine can use the turbulent wind as it works on both lift and drag.

Camelia Sharma via @youngscientistlab

Finalist: Camellia Sharma 

Idea: A system that detects underground water leakage 

Answer: I am passionate about the environment, especially clean water and air. While researching about the clean water, I found that not much attention is being paid to our aging water distribution system (WDS). Addressing the leaking WDS has multiple advantages, including:
i. Reducing the loss of fresh clean water. Less than 0.5% of water on the Earth is available for use.
ii. It lessens the energy needed to clean and pump water. The wasted water indirectly increases our carbon footprint.
iii. All leaks cause erosion. Underground leaks cause sinkholes and damage the natural habitats, roads and other structures.
iv. Contaminants leach into the damaged underground pipes and get into the water supply.

Samyuk Shrimali via @youngscientistlab

Finalist: Samyak Shrimali

Idea: A sensor-based system that tracks hand hygiene at hospitals 

Answer: I came up with this idea in the summer of 2018, when I realized there are people around the world that receive new infections during their visits to hospitals—a primary cause of this is poor hygiene compliance in hospitals. As I researched more about nosocomial infections, this turned about to be a very big problem, with a large fatality rate. This motivated me in finding a solution for this problem and I started working towards innovating a solution that would track hygiene in hospitals to reduce rates of nosocomial infections.

Faraz Tamboli via @youngscientistlab

Finalist: Faraz Tamboli

Idea: A talking device that turns sign language gestures into verbal language 

Answer: After listening to a story from my dad about a deaf and aphonic child, I wondered, how can I make the deaf and aphonic children be able to communicate with everyone. They don’t have the ability to speak or listen, but they can communicate using sign language. The problem is: many people don’t know sign language. We cannot make everyone learn sign language! While using Google’s voice recognition I had a thought: what if I could make a translator that could translate sign language to voice? This will help the aphonic, but not the children with hearing loss. So, I also thought of translating voice to sign language gestures displayed on a tablet screen.

Yosef Granillo via @youngscientistlab

Finalist: Yosef Granillo

Idea: Planting hydroponic trees in the ocean

Answer: Last year during winter break, my mom had me do a special math project on calculating different ways to absorb carbon, either by natural means or new technologies. I had to research the advantages and disadvantages of these technologies, to estimate how much carbon they could absorb.