Young in­ven­tors win con­test

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOODPOSTER - MOIRA MCLAUGH­LIN

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.)

PIC­TURE MOIRA MCLAUGH­LIN

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.

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