Young inventors win contest
CHANCES are good that you know someone who is allergic to some type of food – maybe peanuts, milk or eggs. Researchers at an organisation called the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention think that one child in every 20 has a food allergy.
Two US pupils came up with an idea that may help them. It’s called the Food Allergen Detector (FAD). “Since so many people have allergies, we thought this would be a good idea,” said Pallavi Bhave, 14. Detecting allergens Pallavi and classmate Joyce Tian, 13, won a US science competition recently for coming up with the concept for FAD. The two girls, who attend Kilmer Middle School in Vienna, beat 675 teams of seventh-to-ninth-graders, from seven states in the US.
While the girls didn’t make the FAD – the necessary technology doesn’t exist yet – they came up with the information that could lead to its invention.
It works like this: Let’s say you are allergic to peanuts and you go out to dinner. You order chocolate cake for dessert, but you’re worried that it might contain peanuts. Take out your FAD and point it at the cake. The FAD would shoot two laser beams at the cake. A list of 50 allergens would appear on the screen with the word “yes” or “no” beside them. If “no” appears beside the word “peanut”, it will be safe to eat the cake. In the future When she grows up, Pallavi wants to be a genetic engineer; that is someone who works with DNA (which is the backbone of all life). Joyce, whose dad is a chemist, has been studying the periodic table since she was a toddler. (The periodic table is what scientists use to organise chemical elements, including hydrogen and helium.)
YOUNG SCIENTISTS: Joyce Tian, left, and Pallavi Bhave won a national science contest with their idea for the Food Allergen Detector, a device with lasers that would tell people if a potential allergen, such as nuts or milk, was present in their food.