By LISA CAPOBIANCO
Six teams of local high school students competed for their “big ideas” last week, sharing different innovations with three judges and members of the community.
The teams consisted of students from St. Paul Catholic High School as well as Bristol Central and Bristol Eastern High School who participate in ArtScience Prize at the Boys & Girls Club of Bristol Family Center.
Formed in 2008, ArtScience Prize is an interdisciplinary education program that inspires young individuals to explore and create groundbreaking ideas around an annual scientific theme, preparing them to become the next generation of innovators. ArtScience Prize supports young people around the globe in developing innovative art and design ideas that are relevant on a personal and societal level. Each team’s idea stems from this year’s scientific theme: biodiversity. The teams have been working on their ideas since October.
Team Jelly Made came in first place after presenting its idea at St. Paul Catholic High school last Tuesday. The team will now attend the International Innovation Workshop this summer in Cambridge, Mass. Jelly Made was chosen by the team of judges who are experts in the arts and sciences.
The team’s big idea? Jellyfish bags, which would tackle the problem of plastic bags.
“Our idea is to take the over-invasive jellyfish species and use parts of them to replace the synthetic polymers in plastic bags,” said Libby Terra of St. Paul Catholic High School. “While still maintaining the plastic bag structure and quality, our bags can be made with all eco-friendly materials and jellyfish.”
“It solves two relevant world issues: jellyfish overpopulation and plastic bag overuse,” said Ben Czuprinkski of St. Paul Catholic High School. “Our product replaces the plastic bags with the same function, but without the negative side effects.”
Meanwhile, the second place winner, Cacti Clarify, created their big idea to help solve the problem of countries struggling to find clean water. During its research, the team came across a scientist from the University of South Florida who discovered that mucilage from a cactus has the ability to filter 98 percent of bacteria and contaminants inside water. The team’s big idea: using the mucilage to use it in a filter component of a usable water bottle.
“This problem is too important to be swept under the rug and ignore it,” said Kassandra Ortiz of Bristol Central High School.
“Our hope is to be able to send these water bottles to communities in developing nations that struggle with finding clean water,” said Olivia Lagace of St. Paul Catholic High School. “Through our Cacti Clarify usable water bottles, children and families in these nations will be able to fill their water bottle at any river or stream and the filter in the water bottle will clean the water of most bacteria and contaminants.”
Team Fresh H20, which came in third place, also developed its big idea in response to lack of access to clean water. Wenbo Li, a student from St. Paul Catholic High School attended school in a city where that problem still persists to this day. The team created a product that would be portable and sustainable, using synthetic photosynthesis to power a filter that cleans the contaminants out of water.
“We care—we need to do something to change that situation in this world,” said Li.
“We really hope through our Fresh 20 water filtration system, we can…generate fresh, clean, sustainable water,” said Mallorie Iozzo of St. Paul Catholic High School. “Basically we’re breaking apart the water and bringing it back together again, and that energy is going to power a filter that separates different molecules.”
Operating in over a dozen sites such as the U.S., Europe and Asia, ArtScience Prize helps students engage in projects that involve art and design infused with the sciences, according to the program’s website. The project concepts begin as “seed ideas,” proposed by artists, designers, scientists that evolve in collaborative classes led by adult program mentors. Sponsored by Disney, the program was placed in five different Boys & Girls clubs nationwide, and the Bristol Boys & Girls Club and Family Center was one of them.
Other teams, like Trash 2 Treasure, formed the idea of taking garbage from a garbage vortex and work with companies to make plastic lumber to help places hit by natural disasters with the goal of solving the problem of homelessness while saving the lives of sea animals. Meanwhile, Team Habitree House created a tree house to help solve the problem of pollinator populations rapidly declining, and Team Illumileaf created an idea of using plants to make electricity at night for a lamp post to provide safety for drivers and to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide with the goal of decreasing the number of motor vehicle crashes that happen each year.
“We’re really proud of all our students,” said Sarah Lucian, marketing and development coordinator at the Boys & Girls Club.
PHOTOS by MIKE CHAIKEN