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Kritika Modgil


Woohoo! At 16, This Genius Girl Bags The Google Science Fair Prize

  • JWB Post
  •  October 5, 2016


What were you doing at 16? Well, I was trying too hard to pass my Science exams but barely crossed 40 marks. 
At 16 when most students are struggling with Science, this child prodigy, Kiara Nirghin won the Google Science Fair Prize.

Kiara Nirghin, the Indian-origin South African teen, has won a scholarship worth $50,000 and a grand prize for Google Science Fair for her exemplary work. The 11th class student at St. Martin’s School submitted her project titled ‘No More Thirsty Crops’ aiming to tackle the situation in severely drought hit South Africa. Her solution to fight drought was the usage of orange and avocado fruit peel which we usually discard. The idea was to develop a “super absorbent material” that helps retain soil water.

The Google Science Fair is a programme that is organized for budding scientists between the ages 13 to 18.

After experimenting for 45 days, Nirghin successfully created a low-cost, super absorbent polymer made out of waste products from the juice manufacturing industry.

In an interview, she said, “I have always had a great love for chemistry since I was young. I vividly remember at the age of seven experimenting with vinegar and baking soda solutions in plastic cups. The Super Absorbent Polymers (SAPs) are not biodegradable, are costly and full of acrylic acid, sodium hydroxide, and other chemicals. During more research on the topic, I found that natural occurring polymers exist in most citrus fruits.”

Citing the distinguished Indian scientist in her submission as her greatest inspiration, she said, “M.S. Swaminathan has always been an inspiration of mine as he truly believed in the necessary movement of not only India but the whole world towards sustainable agricultural development.”

Her ambition is to become a molecular gastronomist and a scientist specializing in agricultural science.

Kiara Nirghin, the young scientist, is convinced that the mixture she has created will do the magic in drought-hit areas. So proud!

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