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Saturday, August 2, 2014

Nashua student wins Young Scientist Challenge Merit Award

NASHUA – Anushka Ray became concerned when her father started feeling drowsy while driving.

“Luckily, I was there to keep him awake, but I thought of what could have happened if I wasn’t there,” said the former Academy for Science and Design student. ...

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NASHUA – Anushka Ray became concerned when her father started feeling drowsy while driving.

“Luckily, I was there to keep him awake, but I thought of what could have happened if I wasn’t there,” said the former Academy for Science and Design student.

“That day, I researched about drowsy driving and found out that many people in America suffer from it, and that it has been the cause of many accidents. That was when I got the idea of creating an invention to help sleepy drivers stay awake.”

That invention was a smartphone app that measures a driver’s brainwaves and warns them with a loud sound when they aren’t alert enough to drive.

It was an impressive enough achievement to win Ray the 2014 New Hampshire Merit Award as part of a national middle school science competition.

“This is my first time competing in the Young Scientist Challenge, and I wish I had competed in earlier years,” Ray said. “I recommend all kids below ninth grade to participate.

“The Young Scientist Challenge allowed me to present my idea and share it with others. It also allowed me to research, learn a lot of new things and convert the information into a useful invention.”

The challenge bills itself as the premiere science competition for grades 5-8 with the goal of fostering “a new generation of American scientists at an age when interest in science generally declines.”

Students submit videos explaining their inventions at the beginning of the year. Judges review entries in the spring, and state winners and national finalists are announced in the summer.

To qualify, the students’ inventions need to address an everyday problem relative to their lives and provide a realistic solution using the STEM principles – science, technology, engineering and math.

Ray displays Thomas Edison’s famous quote “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration” on her desk because it encourages her to
improve on her ideas without giving up.

“My experience started becoming more and more fun as I was doing the iterations of the invention process,” she said. “I was not happy with the initial versions of my invention, because they weren’t user-friendly enough.

“For example, the device was becoming too clunky to carry around in a car. Too much time would be wasted trying to bring the device in and out of the car. My device was also lacking a balance between giving too many false alarms and not giving the very important lifesaving alerts.”

After attending the Academy for Science and Design, Ray is set to start her freshman year at Nashua High School South this fall.

“I really enjoyed coming up with an idea that could benefit the world and save drivers from drowsy driving accidents,” she said. “This experience was very memorable for me.”

Tina Forbes can be reached at 594-6402 or tforbes@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Forbes on Twitter (@Telegraph_TinaF).