JOHANNESBURG – South African schoolgirl Kiara Nirghin from St. Martin’s Anglican School in Johannesburg won Google’s biggest prize of $50 000 (R684 000) at their annual science fair this week.
Having already won the Google Science Fair Community Impact Award for the Africa region, Kiara travelled to the Google Headquarters in California to be in the finals which took place on Tuesday.
The prize was for her ingenious efforts in her submission, “No More Thirsty Crops.”, which she worked with orange peels to come up with a feasible solution to help ease the effects of the worst drought in 30 years that South African farmers are currently grappling with.
Nirghin’s experimentation with orange peels over 45 days resulted in findings that molecules contained in the peels have stringent water retaining properties that could keep soil hydrated, and since the peels are biodegradable they offer a better alternative for the environment and for costs in comparison to the more expensive to manufacture super-absorbent polymers (SAP’s) currently used to help retain water in soil.
“The product is fully biodegradable, low-cost and has better water retaining properties than commercial SAPs. The only resources involved in the creation of the ‘orange peel mixture’ were not electricity and time, no special equipment nor materials were required,” she said in her submission video.
While she has yet to comment on her big win, the future of South Africa is indeed in great hands.