Age was never a barrier for practical inventions. 11-year-old Peyton Robertson from Florida has aptly proved this by ingeniously creating his version of a ‘sandbag’. Applicable during emergency saltwater flooding scenarios, the contrivance quite ironically totally eschews the component of sand. Instead his creation comprises of a composite of salt and an expandable polymer. So, when the bag is dry it can be easily moved due its lightweight nature, as opposed to the cumbersome heaviness of conventional sandbags. However, the best part comes after the bag is positioned to create a definitive barrier. The users only needs to apply water on them (preferably by a hose), and as a cool after effect, the polymer absorbs the water and expands to fill the entire volume of the bag.
The adding of the salt on the other hand has the opposite effect. As smartly pointed out by the kid designer himself; salt being heavier than seawater endows more solidity to the bag. But they can also reduce the voluminous expansion of the polymer, and hence one needs to calculate the ‘optimized’ quantity for each composition. Quite remarkably, the convenience of invention doesn’t end there; the bags further display interlocking mechanisms along their mid section that can prevent percolation of water through the gaps between two bags.
Finally, as for young Peyton Robertson, the six grader won the grand prize in Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge for his contrivance. While being billed as America’s Top Young Scientist, the title also comes with its fair share of perks, including a $25,000 check and a next year summer trip to Costa Rica.
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