Three Indian teenagers have reached the final fifteen in the global competition, Google Science Fair 2012, which challenges young minds to innovate and conduct experiments to change the world we live in.
Rohit Fenn, 16, from Bethany High School, Raghavendra Ramachanderan, 17, from St John’s International Residential School (both from Bangalore) and Sumit Singh Yadav, 14, from Lucknow Public School, Lucknow, are the three from India who have made it to the select group of 15 who will contest in the finals from among thousands of entries that Google received from 100 countries for the annual Google Science Fair (GSF).
The final will be held in mid-July in California, and the grand prize is $100,000 as well as a trip to the Galapagos Islands, a part of continental Ecuador.
Rohit Fenn designed a western toilet (commode) that reduces consumption of water by at least half. Each flush uses about seven litres of water. Rohit’s design allows a reverse pressure using a piston that can be operated by a footrest below the commode.
“The added (reverse) pressure from the piston can reduce the amount of water allowed to flush while maintaining the pressure required for flushing the waste,” he says while insisting that the innovation is practical as well as cost-effective.
Raghavendra has found a way to recycle fuel by using sunlight in the hope of saving the world from a global energy crisis. He innovated a way to mix sunlight with carbon-based compounds like starch or glucose by introducing a photo catalyst (that facilitates reaction of sunlight with a substance), that not only absorbed the sunlight but also interacted with the oxidised fuel, thus regenerating the fuel.
Sumit, the youngest among the Indian finalists, provides a solution to farmers who do not have adequate land. His project, called vertical multi-level farming, works similar to ‘built up area’ in building plans, which could one day allow farmers to cultivate farms on the concept of multi-storeyed buildings. While presenting his innovation, Sumit says that although similar concepts (including terrace farming or step farming) have existed, a multi-storeyed farming concept has not yet become a reality, which he hopes to make in the future.
Lalitesh Katragadda, Google’s Country head, India Product, amazed at the innovations by these teenagers, said these innovations could not only solve real world problems but also produce ground-breaking science in the future.
He said these innovations were also a message to schools and parents that while academic excellence was important the focus should be on whether students were able to grasp the depths of science. “This is where innovation comes from,” he said.