Over 100 students from schools across 17 states in India showcased 70 innovative projects in diverse fields of science at the National Science Fair – IRIS (Initiative for Research and Innovation in Science) held in New Delhi from 16-18 November this year.
IRIS 2017, jointly organized by Intel India, Indo-US Science and Technology Forum (IUSSTF), and the Department of Science and Technology, has selected 20 top projects that will represent India at Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in May next year.
Rajiv Kumar Tayal, Executive Director at the Indo-US Science and Technology Forum told the India Science Wire that, “in addition to participating at the international science fair in the US, winners will get to spend time at universities. We are strengthening mentoring component which will motivate students to pursue science.”
The award is given in 16 categories. The prize for behavioral and social sciences went to Tanya Talwar and Akshat Gupta of Amity International School in New Delhi who devised a maze to quantify IQ levels in autistic children. This can help categorize autistic patients on the basis of the severity of disease and circumvents the need for them to fill up questionnaires.
In the environmental sciences category, the award was given to Pranav Shikarpur and Siddharth Viswanath at the Bangalore International Academy, who made a floating device equipped with sensors to measure oxygen, salts, pH and temperature of water, which can be used to determine if a lake is polluted.
The award for microbiology was given to Kunal Singh at the Maharaja Agarsain Public School in New Delhi who developed a DNA-based sensor to detect pathogenic bacteria in water samples. The other students who won awards in this category were Naisargik Lenka of the DAV Public School in Bhubhaneshwar for removing hexavalent chromium pollutant from water using an alga Anabaena cylindrica, and Harshit Jindal of the Maharaja Agarsain Public School, New Delhi who used a plant-derived vaccine to prevent bacterial infection in mice.
In the Material and Bioengineering category, the award went to Swasthik Padma and Mohammed Suhail at the St Aloysius PU College in Mangalore who made a paper-based sensor to detect energy malnutrition in children. “It is a non-invasive method. The kid has to spit on this paper sensor that is made using starch, iodine, and hydrogen peroxide and a color change indicates the magnitude of energy deficiency he/she has”, they told the India Science Wire.
The award for computer sciences went to Ishita Mangla of the Delhi Public School, RK Puram in New Delhi who developed a software application named digiTAC to automate the process of diagnosing visual impairments in children. The other student who won in this category was Param Singh Gujaral at the La Martiniere for Boys in Kolkata who developed software that analyzes satellite images to determine features of land such as vegetation and soil.
The third prize in the computer science category was given to Parth Raghav of the Pusa Public School, New Delhi who made a network system to connect doctors specializing in diagnosing cancer.
“Patient MRI images would be sent to many doctors at the same time and they will be asked to diagnose and provide a score. This would help to minimize the manual bias in diagnosing cancer, which will benefit patients in the long run”, he said. Another student, Shinjni Ghosh of the South Point High School in Kolkata won the award in this category on a similar theme. She developed an algorithm to automate cancer identification. “By segregating patients on the basis of their symptoms, computers will be able to automatically classify cancer patients from those who are suffering from other ailments. This would help manage cancer at an early stage”, she said.
Zain Ahmed Samdani, who made a robotic arm to aid patients with an amputated limb or with paralysis, won the award in the Electrical and Mechanical Engineering category. “The patients would wear a glove in their normal arm. It is equipped with sensors. These sensors would signal to the robotic arm, which will then recapitulate the movement of the normal arm. This provides the patient with two functional arms now”, he explains.
Antara Raaghavi Bhattacharya of the GD Somani Memorial School in Mumbai won the award for Earth and Planetary Science. She studied images from NASA Kepler space telescope to find potential Earth-like habitable planets in the universe.
Other students who won the awards were Akash Manoj from the Ashok Leyland School, Tamil Nadu who developed a wearable device that detects FABP3, a protein for early diagnosis of heart attack in the Medicine and Health Sciences category; Tanya Goyal and Sharen Mangalam Chamu Ganesh of the Maharaja Agarsain Public School, New Delhi who used an algal extract to repress some proteins in the body for curbing obesity, and Shuvayu Dasgupta and Syed Roshan Ali of the La Martiniere for Boys, Kolkata to characterize a new molecule CP-31398 that arrests the growth of cancerous cells in the category of Cellular and Molecular Biology; Sivabharathi of the NSN Matriculation Higher Secondary School in Chennai developed a method for raising rice seedlings on a media containing nanobiopesticides, and Kaushik Kunal Singh of the Inventure Academy, Bengaluru who made Plant Doctor, a mobile app to detect plant diseases, bagged awards in the plant sciences category. Aswath Suryanarayanan of the Devi Academy Senior Secondary School in Chennai who developed a model to predict how debris in space would move and collide won in the physics category. Nishant Dhankhar of the Delhi Public School in RK Puram, New Delhi and Sacheth Sathyanarayanan of the National Public School in Chennai won in the mathematics category for solving famous mathematical mysteries.
In addition to these awards, 10 special awards were also given. This included a prize for developing a mobile app – RoadVisor that senses bumpy roads to Shreya Sandurkar of the Amanora Pearson School in Pune in Computer sciences, and for a device STINK MAP that senses pollutants in air using a mobile probe and helps to monitor pollution in the category of Environmental Management amongst others.
Monica Koul, professor at the Department of Botany of the University of Delhi, who was a member of the scientific advisory committee of IRIS 2017, said “the projects have significantly improved with time.” Sultan Ahmed Ismail, one of the judges for the competition, said “we also mentor them after the event that enhances their scientific skills in the long run.”
India Science Wire