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High School Students from Around the World Collaborate to Find a Solution to Wildfires

The New York Academy of Sciences’ Global STEM AllianceTM Announce the Winner of the Wildfires: Tracking, Prevention, and Containment Challenge

Published March 20, 2019

New York, March 20, 2019– Five teenagers from widely disparate countries around the world have developed a potential solution to increasingly devastating wildfires in the New York Academy of Sciences Global STEM AllianceTM (GSA) Challenge “Wildfires: Tracking, Prevention and Containment”.

The winning team of Cindy Liu, (16), Old Scona Academic in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada; Isabelle Robertson (18), University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand; Md Bayezid Hossain (17), Bangladesh Navy College, Dhaka, Bangladesh; Lauren Trute (16), Haileybury City, Australia and Matthew Friedman (16), Horace Greeley High School, Chappaqua, New York, have seen the devastation wildfires cause in Australia, New Zealand and North America and were inspired to create a solution to prevent future destruction.

Twenty-five teams of 67 students ages 13 -18, from 37 countries, participated in creating a solution to natural disasters in an open innovation challenge. The students worked on Launchpad, a virtual platform that enables students to collaborate safely while working on their projects.

While researching, the winning team saw two areas that they wanted to address. One, firefighters are unable to use water pumping stations due to power being cut during wildfires. Two, embers flying for miles were the leading cause of houses igniting. The students reimagined building materials that would address these two problems.

For their solution, they designed a house with fire-resistant materials. For the walls, they used a calcium calcite board, a metal alloy frame, Rockwool insulation, wall sarking, fiber cement stucco and fire-resistant paint—each section adding another layer of protection. For the roof, they used galvanized steel roofing, roof sarking, type x gypsum roof sheeting, Rockwool insulation and a metal alloy frame. Solar panels were added to the roof that would generate electricity that could be sent to the grid to power water pumping stations for firefighters.

For their winning solution, each team member will receive an all-expense-paid trip to New York City for the Global STEM Alliance Summit in July, 2019. At the Summit, students will meet their teammates, mentor and other GSA students from across the globe.

“Kudos to the New York Academy of Sciences for stimulating young minds about the complexities of wildfire,” said challenge judge, Molly Mowery, AICP, President and Owner of Wildfire Planning International. “This is a global challenge that will take creative thinking and science-based approaches, and projects like these are an important part of future solutions."

“Young people are invested in designing solutions to combat natural disasters and make the world a safer place,” said Hank Nourse, Senior Vice President and Chief Learning Officer, New York Academy of Sciences. “It is truly inspiring to see how enthusiastic they are about addressing global issues through our innovative challenges.”

About the Global Stem AllianceTM

The Global STEM AllianceTM (GSA)—a subsidiary of the New York Academy of Sciences—is a worldwide talent identification and cultivation network, made up of more than 250 partners and reaching participants in over 100 countries. Designed to inspire and prepare the next generation of innovators, GSA programs focus on mentorship, skills development, and the application of skills to real-world challenges.

About the New York Academy of Sciences

The New York Academy of Sciences is an independent, not-for-profit organization that since 1817 has been committed to advancing science, technology, and society worldwide. With more than 20,000 members in 100 countries around the world, the Academy is creating a global community of science for the benefit of humanity. The Academy's core mission is to advance scientific knowledge, positively impact the major global challenges of society with science-based solutions, and increase the number of scientifically informed individuals in society at large. Please visit us online at


Mandy Carr
Communications Manager, Global STEM Alliance
The New York Academy of Sciences