Oregon Teen Invents Bandage That ‘Tells’ When It Must Be Changed

By Jonna Marcaida Calagui , Oct 05, 2016 02:00 PM EDT

Pre-algebra in seventh grade can be a tough subject for most 13-year-olds. But teenage girl Anushka Naiknaware raised the bar higher by inventing a bandage that tells doctors when it needs to be changed. Judges from Google are impressed and Naikanware secured herself a scholarship worth $15,000.

Google run an international science contest where Naiknaware was awarded eight place. The scholarship was included with the Lego Education Builder Award granted to Naiknaware. On top of that, she gets a free trip to Denmark to visit the Lego world headquarters. She also got a year of mentoring for entrepreneurship for free from a Lego executive.

The light of idea

Moisture is important to ensure the healing of large wounds. Bandages are often checked for moisture levels. But instead of helping, this can actually worsen the problem.

Naiknaware, a seventh-grader from Stoller Middle School in Portland, did not just support her invention with scientific explanations - she brought in some mathematical equations, too. What Naiknaware did was to design a bandage with tiny monitors embedded in it. The sensors can check moisture levels without actually removing the bandage and help doctors and other medical workers to change the dressing when needed.

The hope of scale production

Lack of moisture can make large wounds even worse but Naiknaware was successful in making a bandage with graphene nanoparticles used as an ink that acts as sensors printed in a fractal pattern. For a 13-year-old to do this is simply brilliant. But Naiknaware gave her thanks to a YouTuber for introducing her to the "elegance of Math" and "fractals." She also hopes that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would approve her bandages and produce it at scale to benefit patients.

Naiknaware was one of the 16 global finalists and was the youngest to win one of the global prizes at Google's headquarters in Mountain View, California.

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