Costa Rican science projects gained prizes at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair held last week at the Los Angeles Convention Centre, competing against 600 youth from 70 countries in 14 categories.
Their projects were widely diverse, from a natural fungicide to protect cacao — to “cat’s eye” light sensitive asphalt — to a chemical short cut to produce graphene, a substance 200 times more durable and resistant than steel.
Jose David Porras and Paulo Andres Diaz won fourth place in the electrical and mechanical engineering category with their asphalt that lights up the pavement when a car approaches a traffic signal and may be used also to indicate temporary lanes on the roadway.
It can be used even to warn public works departments of a cave off obstructing the roadway. It is the invention of the two students at Santa Lucia Technical Professional high school at Cartago. The three winning local entries were from a total of five submitted.
Daylin Bryan, Veronical Bustos and Marcelo Guerra copped third place in the Plant Sciences division with their natural fungicide against the cacao disease monilia. They are students at Liceo Academico at Sixaola.
Roberto Delgado and Brandon Montero not only can produce graphene more easily and cheaply, but also discovered new uses for the substance, which is hard surfaced, yet flexible. It is used in quick recharge batteries that hold their charge longer. They go to Monseñor Sanabria Technical high school.
But it is the cheaper production of the substance that wowed judges — with a machine costing just $3,000 (machines for this purpose normally cost upwards of $200,000) the duo can make it from common graphite such as used in pencil lead. For $35 they can create a 98 centimeter long sheet costing $3,800 on today’s market.
They garnered fourth place in the materials and bioengineering category. All the Costa Rican contestants received help in attending the fair from Intel and the Ministry of Science and Technology. Costa Rica has entered a total of 118 students since 1998.
Article by iNews.co.cr, reprinted with permission