Sustainable Weather Balloon Wins Student a $10,000 Scholarship

Daily hundreds of climate balloons are launched all around the world, utilizing radiosondes to measure stress, relative humidity, and temperature. The balloons aren’t environmentally pleasant, although, partially as a result of they’re made out of nonrecyclable supplies comparable to latex. Additionally, there’s quite a lot of waste.

After a number of hours within the air, a climate balloon bursts and its radiosonde falls to the bottom by way of a parachute. Out of the 75,000 radiosondes launched yearly in the USA, solely 20 p.c are discovered and returned, in line with the National Weather Service. The price of changing them provides up.


Amon Schumann, a senior on the Robert-Havemann-Gymnasium faculty, in Berlin, has invented eco-friendly, cost-effective options.

A young man holding a device called a radiosonde
Amon Schumann’s radiosonde for climate balloons is supplied with a solar-powered battery and GPS.Lynn Bowlby

Schumann constructed a coin-size, solar-powered radiosonde that weighs 4.8 grams—way more compact than present fashions, which weigh about 96 g. The climate balloon he designed can keep within the air longer than conventional fashions as nicely.

His Small Radiosondes on a Great Mission undertaking was showcased in Could on the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair held in Atlanta.

At a particular awards ceremony, Schumann was caught unexpectedly when it was introduced that his undertaking obtained the IEEE Presidents’ Scholarship. The award was established by the IEEE Foundation to acknowledge a deserving scholar for a undertaking that demonstrates an understanding {of electrical} or electronics engineering, laptop science, or different IEEE area of curiosity. The scholarship is run on behalf of IEEE Educational Activities and is payable over 4 years of undergraduate college research. Schumann additionally obtained a complimentary IEEE scholar membership. Susan K. “Kathy” Land, the 2021 IEEE president, introduced Schumann with this 12 months’s scholarship.

“Compared to launching 2,000 to five,000 balloons that watch for simply two to 3 hours, my balloon can keep up within the air for 52 days.”

Schumann was motivated to enhance radiosondes and climate balloons throughout a go to to an area meteorology museum. There he discovered that radiosondes haven’t considerably modified prior to now 100 years.

Environmentally Pleasant

Due to the rise in air stress at excessive altitudes, climate balloons burst at round 35 kilometers. To handle the issue, Schumann used layers of foil welded collectively, plus a heated Teflon wheel, to create a balloon that is ready to face up to increased altitudes.

“Compared to launching 2,000 to five,000 balloons that watch for simply two to 3 hours, my balloon can keep up within the air for 52 days, so fewer balloons must be launched,” he says.

His radiosonde offers a number of occasions extra measurement information per day in contrast with conventional ones launched each two weeks. The radiosondes are geared up with a solar-powered battery, which is about 20 grams lighter than a lithium battery.

Schumann additionally developed an extension module with a digital camera to document further information comparable to cloud formation.

“The digital camera can take aerial pictures of the clouds,” he says, “which permits for a extra correct view of their formation and connections compared to a conventional radar system.”

He added GPS to trace his radiosonde in actual time. The radiosonde’s location is uploaded to his balloon flight tracker, which he hopes shall be of use to these needing climate information.

The software program he designed permits for the radio climate information packets to be transmitted in actual time from his radiosonde to an evaluation unit in his residence. The info is then despatched to the Citizen Weather Observer Program, a volunteer-based community. From there it’s forwarded to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for attainable use normally climate forecasting.

Schumann says he plans to check electrical engineering at a technical college in Berlin.

Mind-Pc Interface

This 12 months’s second-place recipient was Navya Ramakrishnan, a senior at Plano Senior High School, in Texas. Her interface makes use of mind alerts to finish family duties comparable to turning on a tv.

Ramakrishnan’s brain-computer interface was designed for individuals with paralysis and neuromuscular problems together with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. She says her inspiration got here from the machine Steven Hawking constructed that used his eye actions to speak.

“That was undoubtedly the place to begin, after I considered a method to have a common communication-aid machine for ALS sufferers,” Ramakrishnan says. As a substitute of utilizing eye actions, she used mind waves measured by an EEG headset to gauge exercise.

A female student wearing a lanyard identifying her as a finalist at ISEF.
Second-place recipient Navya Ramakrishnan designed a brain-computer interface to assist these with paralysis and neuromuscular problems do family duties comparable to turning on a tv. Lynn Bowlby

She found {that a} spike within the EEG information, a P300 sign, happens in response to an occasion. Utilizing a pc monitor, she created a visible show of generally used home-automation command phrases. The BCI system is linked with the house’s circuit, which controls lights, home equipment, and extra. The command is carried out by way of wi-fi transmission to the a part of the circuit in charge of that job.

When customers see their desired command flash on the monitor, they depend of their head till it stops—which triggers a response and creates a P300 sign. The BCI system pinpoints which command lit up on the time the sign occurred.

“Let’s say the person needs to activate a light-weight. Each time that ‘Gentle on’ command flashes on the display I ask them to depend of their head,” she explains. “The counting will generate that ‘Oh, there’s the gentle on command,’ response, and it’ll generate that spike within the EEG information.

“Basically what my system does,” she says, “is ask, ‘The place did these P300 alerts happen?’ As a result of the place they happen means the person simply reacted to the command that flashed on the display.”

Ramakrishnan stated she shall be attending Harvard this 12 months to pursue a level in laptop science with a focus in thoughts, mind, and conduct.

Detecting Leukemia

Adelle Jia Xin Yong, a junior at Westlake High School in Austin, Texas, was awarded third place for her Smart Leukemia Labs undertaking. Her transportable microscope and diagnostic instrument precisely and shortly detects acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

A female student holding a black portable microscope and diagnostic tool.
Adelle Jia Xin Yong was awarded third place for her transportable microscope and diagnostic instrument that precisely and shortly detects acute lymphoblastic leukemia from a drop of blood.Lynn Bowlby

The invention is appropriate with smartphones. An attachment magnifies a drop of blood on a 0.5-millimeter glass slide as much as 1,000 occasions. An app that makes use of object detection, picture recognition, and semantic segmentation identifies irregular blood cells to diagnose leukemia.

Yong says her invention combines her ardour for serving to the group and bettering entry to well being care.

“In seventh grade I had a good friend who sadly had leukemia,” she says. “As I noticed her undergo the remedies, I questioned how individuals who didn’t have entry to the expertise she had had been in a position to receive remedies or perhaps a prognosis.”

Yong’s diagnostic instrument is focused at these dwelling in underserved areas. It prices about US $28 to make and makes use of low-cost supplies, most of which may be discovered across the residence, comparable to a metallic pin and a tiny plastic tube.

When Yong heard her identify known as on the truthful, she was shocked, she says.

“ISEF is a extremely massive factor,” she says. “I used to be pleased with my invention, however I didn’t know I might win one thing. I’m simply completely thrilled.”

Yong’s father launched her to engineering. In 2020 she taught herself easy methods to code by watching YouTube movies.

She based GStar, a membership at her highschool that’s targeted on empowering girls in science, expertise, engineering, and math fields.

She says she hopes to attend medical faculty and turn into a physician. Her purpose is to show her patented prototype right into a viable product with the assistance of producers and labs.

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