A bright idea and some mentoring will take 15-year-old Angelina Arora all the way to the USA; Arora’s shrimp bioplastic will be representing Australia at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania alongside over 1800 high school students from 75 countries, regions, and territories.
After becoming a finalist in the 2017 BHP Billiton Foundation Science and Engineering Awards for her research into the commercial viability of bioplastics, she decided to refine her research and worked with a CSIRO mentor to develop a completely biodegradable plastic made from prawn shell and sticky protein from the silk of silkworms.
It was this research that won her the Innovator to Market Award in the 2018 BHP Billiton Foundation Science and Engineering Awards, a partnership between the BHP Billiton Foundation, CSIRO and the Australian Science Teachers Association.
Arora said her project was inspired by being asked to pay for a plastic bag at a shop that prompted her to think of a way people could still have the convenience of plastic, without the harmful environmental effects.
“I’m driven by wanting to help – whether it’s people, the environment or animals. It was amazing after months of research that I found a plastic that was suitable,” she said.
She will be in good company at ISEF with finalists Caitlin Roberts, Kavinya Welikala, Ella Cuthbert, Cassandra Dods, Ashley Cain and teacher winner Adele Hudson also representing Australia at the fair.
All of their projects will be on show at the competition.
CSIRO Education and Outreach Director Mary Mulcahy said showcasing Australia’s brilliant science, technology, engineering and mathematics projects on the world stage is crucial if Australia is to keep pace with a rapidly changing world.
ISEF is the world’s largest international pre-college science competition. Each year over 1800 high school students are awarded the opportunity to showcase their independent research and compete for on average $4 million in prizes.
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