It has often been said that “children are the future,” but more and more, we’re inclined to believe in their abilities to change the status quo right now. Case in point is 13 year-old Oregon teen Anushka Naiknaware, who recently finished in the top eight of an international “science fair” sponsored by Google. Her invention: a groundbreaking bandage that alerts medical professionals when it needs to be changed through nanoparticles that detect moisture levels. If that sounds impressive to you (and it certainly does to us!), just wait until you read about how Anushka figured out the mechanism to make this invention work.

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The middle schooler tackled a very practical problem in health care: keeping wounds moist is an important part of the healing process, but changing the dressings too often can lead to infection or altered moisture levels. Anushka tapped into the preferred visual media dictionary of how-to’s for her generation (a.k.a. YouTube) to learn about fractals, which eventually became a key component of her invention. She used fractal patterns, which were ink-printed onto carbon graphene particles and embedded into the bandages, to let medical professionals know whether the bandages were at the appropriate moisture level. As part of her LEGO Education Builder Award prize, Anushka earned a $15,000 scholarship, a trip to LEGO world headquarters in Denmark, and the opportunity to have a LEGO executive provide mentorship training for a year. Anushka, whose parents are both engineering/science entrepreneurs, plans to use her mentorship opportunity to navigate how to get her bandages approved and produced by the FDA.

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via Oregon Live

Images © Naiknaware family