Anushka Naiknaware, a thirteen year-old from Portland, invented a special bandage that tells doctors when it needs to be changed. The invention was a finalist in an international science contest sponsored by Google, an honor that has won Naiknaware a $15,000 scholarship, a trip to the Lego world headquarters in Denmark, and a year of entrepreneurial mentorship with a Lego executive. She was the youngest scientist to win one of the contest’s substantial prizes.
The bandage has tiny monitors embedded into its design, allowing nurses and doctors to “see” if the dressing has dried enough to be changed, without having to remove it from the patient. Large wounds have to be kept moist to improve healing and pulling up bandages too often to check moisture levels can worsen wounds. Naiknaware created and experimented with different ways to use ink printed into fractal patterns in order to embed nanoparticles of graphene into the bandage. These particles allow for accurate monitoring of moisture levels.
The Google contest judges were enthralled with her invention. She was named one of 16 global finalists chosen to travel to Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, California. Interacting with other teen scientists from all around the world was one of her favorite life experiences, she said.
Naiknaware won the Lego Education Builder Award that recognizes “a student who uses an innovative, hands-on approach to solve some of the greatest engineering challenges.” In addition to the scholarship, mentorship and the trip to Denmark, she won a chance to address Lego’s board of directors and her own custom-built Lego brick.
Naiknaware intends to make the most of her mentor’s advice to see if her bandages can be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to be used in hospitals across the country.