08 May 2017, Bangalore: Sahithi Pingali from Inventure Academy won the Gold Medal at the ISWEEEP (The International Sustainable World Energy, Engineering & Environmental Project) Olympiad, the world’s largest science fair focused on renewable resources for high school students. This was the 10th edition of the fair, which is held at Houston, USA every year and had over 600 ﬁnalists from 62 countries.
Sahithi, will be accompanying the ﬁve member Indian team (which won two gold, one silver and two bronze), back to India, only to return to the US for the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF), which will be held in LA from 14-19 May. Sahithi is the only student from India who is a ﬁnalist at both ISWEEEP and Intel ISEF this year.
Sahithi was ﬁrst exposed to the impact of development on Bangalore’s lifeline – our network of lakes – in July 2015, when she won a scholarship from Inventure to participate in the American India Foundation (AIF) program, to study the impact of urban development on scarce resources. Sahithi was also part of the Inventure team that participated in the Our Lakes Our Voice (OLOV) (an Inventure Change Maker initiative) aimed at students from AIF and Inventure doing an experiential case study on Varthur Lake, a 450-acre water body in Inventure’s vicinity.
The team’s ﬁndings through OLOV prompted Sahithi (the Change Maker OLOV student coordinator) and her team to research the various factors that contribute to the pollution of our water bodies through surveys, sessions with experts, and interviewing people who live and work around the lakes, while carrying out regular testing on ten diﬀerent Bangalore lakes, for over a year.
Sahithi went on to develop an integrated mobile phone app and lake monitoring kit which is being used to visualize changing lake conditions by crowdsourcing lake monitoring to citizens and students (our future citizens!). All the collected data feeds into a ﬁrst-of-its-kind live web-based water health map of the world which automatically indicates the status of each monitored water body.
The months of hard work and perseverance paid oﬀ when Sahithi’s research project ‘An Innovative Crowdsourcing Approach to Monitoring Freshwater Bodies’ won her the Grand Award at the IRIS National Science Fair in Pune. At a separate event, the Indian National Science and Engineering Fair held at Rajkot – Gujarat, Sahithi competed against the top 20 Gold medal lists of the country and emerged as one amongst the top 3 winners to represent India at ISWEEEP.
This is what Sahithi said on winning the Gold Medal at ISWEEEP: “I think the best part is how much attention this prize brings to the polluted lakes and freshwater bodies in Bangalore, India, and the rest of the world. Water pollution is such a terrible, invisible problem that aﬀects so many people across the globe. Winning this prize is the ﬁrst step towards creating a network of hundreds of thousands of citizens who are in touch with their environment and are gathering precious scientiﬁc data to help us combat water pollution. It starts in Bangalore. My classmates, OLOV team mates and I are already monitoring ten lakes using my system, and I hope more people, especially school students, will step up, adopt lakes, and truly make a diﬀerence to help rejuvenate lakes and other freshwater bodies.”
“The interesting thing about my project is that it’s all about crowdsourcing, getting students and citizens to contribute scientiﬁc data. OLOV was the inspiration for this – it was the dedication and commitment of my team members at Inventure that convinced me that high school students were capable of gathering such reliable data, while increasing their environmental awareness and knowledge of science. I hope students all over Bangalore will take this as a call for action to adopt lakes and lead the way for the rest of the world.”
Her father, Dr Gopal Pingali said: “I am thrilled and feel blessed that Sahithi has won a gold medal at I-SWEEEP 2017. This is a great recognition of her passion, innovation, and hard work towards the cause of reviving freshwater bodies across the world through a coordinated scientiﬁc approach that is spearheaded by school children. I am sure this award will be an inspiration to many brilliant high school students pursuing scientiﬁc innovation all over India. My wife Aruna and I are full of gratitude to Inventure Academy, Science Society of India, and all Sahithi’s mentors who have been guiding her on this project over the last year.”
Nooraine Fazal, Co-founder & Managing Trustee, Inventure Academy, said, “We are very proud of Sahithi’s humility, focus, discipline and grit. The outcomes, i.e. the opportunity to represent India and the gold medal(s) are icing on the cake. Its very rare for someone her age to have these a5ributes and be so excited about spending weekends at our polluted lakes, which most of us avoid or drive past in air conditioned vehicles (even while holding our noses!). It “takes a village to raise a child,” and Sahithi has made the best of the eco- system that her family, the Inventure learning community, IISc, KK School, and Whiteﬁeld Rising have collectively provided her.”
Mr. Narayan Iyer, the President of Science Society of India, said, “We are proud that the students have brought laurels to the country by winning Gold, Silver and Bronze medals, and encourage other students to be part of this science.”
The other projects/medalists from India were:
“At-Home EEG Graphical User Interface for Cognitive Analysis” by Rohan Hundia from Ahmedabad. (won a Bronze medal at I-SWEEEP)
“A Novel, Low cost, Eco friendly Composite Particle Board from Sugarcane Bagasse and Corn Cob” by Thejas Varadaraju from Bangalore. (won a Bronze medal at I-SWEEEP)
“Averrhoa bilimbi – A Natural Coagulant for Rubber Latex” by A U Nachiketh Kumar and Aman K A from Pu5ur. (won a Silver medal at I-SWEEEP)
“Real Time In-Situ Detection Of Heavy Metal Ions In Water: A Novel Approach” by Shivam Singh from Chandigarh. (won a Gold medal at I-SWEEEP)
The International Sustainable World (Engineering Energy Environment) Project Olympiad brings together hundreds of the brightest STEM-focused students from all over the world each year, to compete in a fun and collaborative environment. The 2017 issue of the Science Fair had students from 62 countries and over 600 children participating, where Team India won 2 gold, one silver and two bronze medals.
About Inventure Academy
Inventure Academy is a Pre K – Grade 12 International School, established in 2005, located on Whiteﬁeld-Sarjapur Road, and ranked among the top ten co-ed day schools in India, and second in Karnataka by the C-Fore Survey. Inventure Academy’s unique curriculum, which equips children with life skills, is focused on the holistic development of children, with the expectation that each child will ﬂourish in academic, athletics and other co-curricular spheres. Inventure Academy oﬀers K-12 curriculum, based on guidelines from IGCSE, A/AS Levels from CIE and CISCE (Council for the Indian School Certiﬁcate Examination). The school has aﬃliation with both examining boards.
About Inventure Changemaker Program
The Inventure Changemaker Program is a platform to teach our high school students to be advocates of positive change, in their neighborhoods and beyond. This program is run by a pioneering teaching-learning community of volunteers, including academic experts, parent-entrepreneurs & activists, Inventure management and faculty.