Wyeth® Nutrition awards student inventors of security doorknob, banana stem filter, and anti-ripening paper

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  • Meet the students from Baguio, Cebu, and Manila who hope to change the world — one innovation at a time.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — An auto-call doorknob, an anti-ripening paper, and a banana stem water filter won this year's Search for Wyeth® Nutrition Kid Innovators.

Three teams of students  ran off with the award last September for  their innovative projects that show not only what kids can do in the name of science, but also what science can do in service of a community.

They each won P100, 000 and a science showcase of the same value for their schools.

The projects were judged based on their innovativeness and functionality, resourcefulness and creativity, social relevance, and overall presentation (neatness and quality).

Let’s meet the kid innovators behind these fantastic inventions.

Auto-call doorknob

The idea for a security system had been sitting in Jericho Gomez Villarico head for over a year after his family fell victim to burglary in early 2015.

After a number of failed attempts, he finally made saw success with an auto-call doorknob.  The gadget calls the house owner when somebody fiddles with the knob of a door in an attempted break-in.

The auto-call doorknob also takes a photo of the intruder.  In addition, the homeowner can set a pattern in knob-turning that will automatically open the door without a lock.

“The challenge [was] how to turn this idea into a reality... a working prototype,” Villarico said. He found the key was understanding how locks work and the use of a microcontroller that gets triggered by a turn on the locked knob.

Villarico says the system is not only applicable to doors, but also to rooftops, windows, and other possible points of entry into a household. It can also be installed in cars.  The system can be designed to call more than one phone.

Villarico plans to improve his invention even more.

 “If the opportunity comes to share it again,” he said, smiling. “I will be more than willing.”

Anti-ripening paper

Malycka Roz Rentuza’s mom has a suki for mangoes.  She noticed the fruits were usually wrapped in newspaper to speed up the ripening process.  This made her wonder—what if they invented a type of paper that did the opposite?

So she and schoolmate from Philippine Science High School-Cebu, Hannah Nicole Gaudiel, developed a solution: the anti-ripening paper, designed to hold back the ripening process enough for long travel.

Rentuza and Gaudiel began their research by discovering the science behind ripening fruits, and which chemicals cause it. When they ran their experiment, the fruit of choice for testing was the banana, a major export product of the Philippines.

“Fruits tend to spoil early because of the time it takes to transport them,” explained Gaudiel. The two added that spoilage affects not only farmers who lose profit from agricultural produce, but consumers as well.

The success of their experiment spells a more accessible, affordable method of fruit preservation.

“We plan on testing [the product] on other fruits and crops and finding other papers that are less expensive,” Rentuza said on future plans for the project. After that, she two young investors want get a patent and sell the product commercially.

“Science never stops,” Rentuza said in response to a judge who asked her what made her interested in the discipline.  She added that other courses are more subjective.  “Science is honest and [focuses] more on real data.”

Banana stem water filter

“Don’t be changed by the world — you can change the world,” Katrina Ysabel Sison said in an introductory video showcasing her group's  innovation.

True to her word, she and two classmates, Adrianne Ong and Andrea Samantha Estrella, from St. Scholastica’s College in Manila, were challenged by problems in agricultural waste and the lack of potable water in disaster-stricken areas.  They decided to develop the banana stem water filter with a solar powered distillation system.

“Unsafe water kills more people compared to war and violence,” said Ong, adding that it is one of the leading causes of deaths in the world according to the United Nations.

The group found that banana stems often become agricultural waste.  But research backed their ability to filter copper, oil, and gasoline among other pollutants. The filter the group invented has two layers of banana stems followed by charcoal and sand in measured quantities.  It  is accompanied by a solar distillation system. The filtered water from the system proved potable in tests done by the University of Philippines’ Department of Medical Microbiology.

Following the win, the girls said they plan to expand the project further by testing different pollutants, and then applying for certification. Their dream is to make the discovery accessible to far-flung communities, with the filters available at the barangay level.

The accessibility of its components makes the filter possible to build almost anywhere, without help from the local government.

“We made sure to use community-based materials,” Estrella explained.

Two of the notable traits of the winning kid innovators are their wish to design socially-relevant projects, and their determined dedication to use science for the good of the commyunity.  In a country like the Philippines, their inventions could go a long way. These kids have a long way to go too as their journey to innovation continues.