NY and CT students' inventions help with food safety

July 27, 2012 10:18:48 AM PDT
Two of the winning teams of an international competition for student inventions that help fix real world problems are from the New York and Connecticut area.

One invention, what looks like an ordinary pitcher, is actually a prototype of a smart milk pitcher that tells you if your milk is safe to drink.

"When you take it out of the fridge, the light sensor activates the pH sensor," Stuart Bruce-Noble, one of the student inventors said. "It senses the milk is spoiled and it bleeps a flashing red light, and it also has a high pitch alarm."

The pitcher was invented by students from the Manhattan Academy of Technology. They are one of the winning teams in a competition for the Global Innovation Award.

The event is hosted by the nonprofit organization called First, which means For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.

"It's activity based, it's engaging, you're addressing several different subjects, engineering and technology and science together in an integrated way," Ben Esner of the New York University Polytechnic Institute said.

The competition is used to solve a real world problem and this year the focus is on food safety.

Students from Shelton Public Schools in Connecticut invented a smart sticker. It goes from green to red if your eggs have gone bad. "The chemical which is in the stickers are called thermo chromic crystals," Raj Ganjikunta, a 7th grade student inventor said. "When the crystals melt, they change color and they stay that color."

The idea came from their cell phones.

"On a battery you can see a white sticker," Joseph Niski a 9th grade student inventor said. "They start out white and if they become wet at any point they change from white to blue."

The winning teams are each awarded a quarter of a million dollars to patent, prototype and produce their product to bring it to the market and to you. The students from Shelton Public Schools already have a preliminary patent for their sticker.

The smart pitcher creators are now searching for the best pH sensor and then they plan to apply for a patent.

"We want this idea to keep on going through because we've already come far enough; we don't want to just stop," Michael Monticcillo, one of the student inventors said. "We actually want this to still happen to stop people from getting sick from drinking the bad milk."

The young inventors recently had the chance to present their inventions at the patent and trademark office just outside of Washington DC where top officials from the Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration were present. So you might just see those products on a store shelf near you ...one day soon.

For more information on the competition visit: www.usfirst.org/

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