Youngsters impress by innovating on what they see around them

Curiosity drove them to question, love for science pushed them to explore, and their passion to address the needs of the day made them innovate.

All this ultimately led them to earn a spot in the final 15 of the Google Science Fair 2012.

Two boys from Bangalore and one from Lucknow will visit the Google headquarters in California in July to present their projects during the final leg of the Google Science Fair 2012.

Students from over 100 countries across the world are participating in the science fair.

Flush with success

For Rohit Fenn from Bethany High School, the severe water scarcity in the city pushed him to work towards finding a solution. “I thought to myself about water wastage in every home. And obviously, the maximum wastage is in the toilet!” said Rohit, who was 16 when he sent his application for the competition.

He developed a partial vacuum assisted flush that helps conserve 50 per cent of the water that a normal flush consumes. “I developed a prototype with my grandfather and after five failed attempts, we finally succeeded in building exactly what we wanted to,” shared Rohit, whose flush uses a combination of negative and positive pressures. His mother Jessy Fenn was all smiles. “We have always encouraged him to learn, not just study,” she said.

The right chemistry

Seventeen-year-old Raghavendra Ramachandran, a Bangalorean who is a student of St. John's International Residential School, Chennai, is passionate about organic chemistry and that, he said, is what drove him to explore the area of fuels and energy. Simplifying his intricate experiment for The Hindu, he said, “My experiment proposes how sunlight or visible light can be made more palatable for organic molecules, which otherwise would not respond to them.”

The applications that this experiment can have are “remarkable.” “It can even help regenerate fuel. We can even develop a car that never stops!” he said. This young scientist has also been awarded the SIYSS Dudley Herschbach Award, which will give him the opportunity to attend the Nobel Prize Ceremony this December.

Back to his roots

The youngest of the three, 15-year-old Sumit Singh from Lucknow, addressed the problem of unavailability of agricultural land for cultivation. He has come up with his own low-cost vertical and multi-level farm. “The raw materials needed to build this are something every farmer has access to in his immediate environment,” he said. His model makes use of bamboo, rope and baked mud tiles.

Having hit upon the idea two years, young Sumit's journey has been supported by his family, who have their roots in agriculture. “Everybody at home helped him at different points, as they all have a good knowledge about the fields,” said Anshu Singh, his sister, a lecturer in an engineering college.

High quality

Lalitesh Katragadda, Country Head – India (Products), Google, said the fair had received the same number of applications as last year. “However, the quality of experiments that these children have proposed is much better,” he said.

He said the Google team was blown away by the kinds of experiments these students conducted.

The 15 finalists will now compete for the final prize of $100,000 in scholarship funds and a trip to the Galapagos Islands and more at the Google headquarters in California.