South African Girl Takes Top Prize in International Science/Engineering Fair

Posted Tuesday, October 4, 2016 at 11:38 AM

"Kiara Nirghin won the 2016 Google Science fair by creating a product that could help farmers in drought-stricken areas."

South African Girl Takes Top Prize in International Science/Engineering Fair

PostedTuesday, October 4, 2016 at 2:00 PM

South African Girl Takes Top Prize in International Science/Engineering Fair

The winner of the 2016 International Google Science Fair is a 16-year-old South African named Kiara Nirghin. She developed a way to turn orange peels into a low-cost, biodegradable water storage material that can help farmers in drought-stricken areas.

The Google Science Fair recognized 20 finalists from around the world with science and engineering projects in a variety of subject areas.

Nirghin experimented with super absorbent polymers (SAPs), which are materials able to absorb many time their own weight in water. When mixed in with soil, this material acts like mini water reservoirs that increase plant survival and growth in dry areas. Currently available SAPs are expensive and non-biodegradable. Their manufacture creates potentially toxic byproducts. Nirghin created an SAP product that was “fully biodegradable, low-cost and has better water retaining properties than commercial SAPs.”

You can read more about Kiara Nirghin’s winning project on the Google Science Fair site.

Nirghin tackled this project since South Africa, like many countries in the region, is suffering from its worst drought in 45 years. In her own words, she wants to “extend scientific progress in elevating the problems that South Africa faces in food security and sustainable agricultural development.”  

Congratulation Kiara, you are an inspiration!

Filed Under Environment Materials Agricultural Materials Food & Agriculture