Gone are the days when you had to wait to get a degree before you can contribute to society and pupils across South Africa are proving that it’s possible to bring change to their communities while they’re still in high school.
This 16 year old from St. Martin’s School in Johannesburg, Kiara Nirghin, who just won the widely sought-after Google Science Fair Community Impact Award is one example of a youngster who’s already making a difference in her community by innovating ways to deal with challenges not only affecting the area she lives in, but the entire country too.
The young “scientist-in-the-making” has come up with a new way to keep crops hydrated during drought. Nirghin has managed to create a material that can hold hundreds of times its weight in water in the soil, using orange peels and avocado skins. This absorbent polymer then acts as a water reservoir in the earth.
Kiara’s unique idea could have a major impact on how the continent manages the effects of climate change in years to come and since it’s made from orange and avocado skins, it won’t break the budget of local farmers, like so many other water storage devices currently do.
Every year, the Google Science Fair invites students from around the world to use science and engineering to improve their communities. Representing the entire continent, young Kiara is now in the running to become one of the 16 Global Finalists who will get an opportunity to visit Google Headquarters in California this September for the annual Awards celebration.
“I merely can not express what winning the ‘Google Science Fair’ would mean to me. Winning this competition would be a wonderful elation awarded to me. It would be the greatest inspiration and achievement knowing that others support my endeavor and scientific inclination. With the prize I will hope to continue my studies in science, but also further the scientific development and application of my idea, and in addition extend scientific progress in elevating the problems that South Africa faces in food security and sustainable agricultural development,” said Kiara, Google Science Fair reported.
According to reports, South Africa is currently experiencing one of the worst droughts in 45 years, with the lowest ever rainfall since 1904. In 2015, South Africa received only an average of 403 mm, which is merely 66% of the annual average rainfall. As a result, water restrictions have been imposed in some places in South Africa, and further restrictions are constantly being added.