President Obama on Monday welcomed budding scientists and engineers from across the country to showcase their inventions at the 2015 White House Science Fair.
Two local students, Jonathan Hernandez and Fanta Sinayoko, were among the gifted young leaders selected to participate in the fifth annual event.
Hernandez and Sinayoko represented the SOAR High School InvenTeam that designed and provisionally patented a blood alcohol content detection wristband, which is designed to be an appealing option for young adults who wish to drink responsibly.
The user blows onto a miniature sensor in the wristband, with the presence of ethanol triggering an analog voltage charge that is converted into a light-emitting diode reaction. Green indicates the user’s blood alcohol content is below the legal limit and he or she is safe to drive, while red indicates the user’s BAC is above the legal limit.
The wristband is one-eighth the size of traditional breathalyzer technologies and will cost $20 when it reaches the market, about 13 percent of the price of comparable breathalyzers, according to information provided by the White House.
The team is working to file a utility patent, and at least one company has expressed interest in a licensing agreement, according to the White House.
“Having the opportunity to attend the White House Science Fair, an event that I have been dreaming about, is nothing short of incredible,” stated 17-year-old Hernandez, the design lead on the SOAR InvenTeam.
Hernandez is a junior at SOAR High School and a first generation college student. He will graduate in 2016 with a high school diploma and two associate’s degrees – one in Arts and another in Sciences.
Eighteen-year-old Sinayoko is now a freshman at the University of California at Riverside. She was the patent lead on the SOAR InvenTeam.
“After working on our InvenTeam’s invention prototype for over a year, I am elated to have the opportunity to present our project at the White House and to our President,” Sinayoko stated. “As a biology major at the University of California at Riverside, I live for, and am passionate about, science. This is my chance to represent and demonstrate my passion and InvenTeam’s efforts.”
SOAR High School — an acronym for Students on the Academic Rise — is a specialized high school on the Antelope Valley College campus and part of the Antelope Valley Joint Union High School District. It integrates college courses into the high school curriculum and emphasizes mathematics, science and engineering.
The SOAR students were 2013-2014 Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam grant recipients from the Lemelson-MIT Program. InvenTeams are comprised of high school students, educators, and mentors that receive up to $10,000 each to invent technological solutions to real-world problems of their own choosing.
The White House Science Fair fulfills a commitment the President made at the launch of his Educate to Innovate campaign in November 2009 – to inspire boys and girls to excel in math and science. The President noted at the 2014 White House Science Fair, “As a society, we have to celebrate outstanding work by young people in science at least as much as we do Super Bowl winners. Because superstar biologists and engineers and rocket scientists and robot-builders… they’re what’s going to transform our society. They’re the folks who are going to come up with cures for diseases and new sources of energy, and help us build healthier, more successful societies.”