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The Junior Academy Announces Innovation Challenge Winners

Two global teams of students were named winners of innovation challenges focused on solving major planetary challenges at the inaugural Global STEM Alliance Summit.

Published July 29, 2016

NEW YORK, July 29, 2016 — The Global STEM Alliance of the New York Academy of Sciences is thrilled to announce the team winners of The Junior Academy's innovation challenges. Two teams of students were named winners for their outstanding work creating novel solutions addressing major challenges in low-resource locations. All team participants are part of The Junior Academy, a virtual program that gives exceptional students from around the world the opportunity to enhance and apply their STEM skills.

The announcement took place on July 28, 2016 at the culminating event for the Global STEM Alliance Summit, which brought together 123 students from 13 countries to network with each other and STEM experts, and discuss how they can help to solve the world's problems through science and technology.

Challenge Design

The innovation challenges took place over 60 days, during which students in The Junior Academy formed teams and worked with STEM professionals serving as expert mentors. Students worked together-across time zones and cultures-to develop innovative solutions to two specific challenges.

The Food Loss & Waste challenge, sponsored by and co-created with PepsiCo, asked teams to deliver solutions that reduce food waste, thereby conserving resources and delivering more food to populations in need.

The Wearables challenge, sponsored by and co-created with ARM, asked teams to create wearable technology that could be easily deployed in low-resource areas to address disaster warning and response or to promote water, sanitation, and hygiene.

"The winning teams are incredible examples of the type of truly innovative ideas that young people can create when they are exposed to the right conditions: the incentive to collaborate, encouragement to think big, access to STEM experts, and the opportunity to work with peers from different backgrounds and perspectives," says Celina Morgan-Standard, Senior Vice President of Digital Learning Solutions, The New York academy of Sciences. "We are so pleased to be able to provide those conditions through our groundbreaking, virtual STEM education program."

The Winners

Wearable Technology Challenge Winner:

Team AquaVitae

  • Edita Bytyqi of Macedonia
  • Swadhin Nalubola of the United States
  • Smiti Shah of the United States
  • Vaidehi Shah of the United Kingdom

Project Summary: Team AquaVitae proposed a solution composed of a high-tech portable filtering bottle housed in a backpack, thus making it a practical wearable. The proposed wearable includes a stainless steel sink filter, an activated carbon pack, and a cheap canvas cotton cloth with Multi­Walled Carbon nanotubes embedded with silver nano particles, which allow the cloth to conduct with a 50 nano ampere current, to get rid of common pathogens. The prototype filter also includes a TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) meter to inform the user of the purity of the filtered water and the backpack includes a GPS unit capable of data logging and mapping the water quality.

The team worked with mentor Ankit Shah of ARM, who is based in India.

Project judges noted that the submission included "great examples of the team collaborating and prototyping the ideas." They also lauded the thorough attention to market research, as well as the team's summary of rejected ideas, which clarified the team's process.

Food Loss and Waste Challenge Winner:

Team "Food Waste Prevention Through Package Design"

  • Asha Abbas of Tanzania
  • Oussama Amir of Morocco
  • Ryan Bose-Roy of the United States
  • Yuanyuan Wei of China

Project Summary: The Team proposed a combination of Polylactic Acid, which is derived from starch in corn, wheat, and potatoes, and natural rubber to design a cost-effective, collapsible, reusable, and eco-friendly bottle that will reduce food spoilage and waste. The bottle design also incorporates a commercially-available smart labeling system that monitors temperatures and notifies the customer whether the product is safe or spoiled.

The team worked with mentor Gbonjubola Amuda of Access Bank Plc., who is based in Nigeria.

"This is a very innovative idea and I think there is a great market for this," said one project judge. Another judge was impressed by the combination of an innovative material and the smart label, while a third noted the team's focused method for addressing a major challenge.

Each student receives a cash prize, as well as reimbursement for their travel to the Global STEM Alliance Summit.

To view the archived Livestream of student presentations, as well as the award ceremony, visit

For more information on The Junior Academy, visit

For press inquiries, including interview and photo requests, please contact Diana Friedman (; 212-298-8645).

About The Global STEM Alliance

The Global STEM Alliance is an international initiative of the New York Academy of Sciences with more than 230 partners in more than 50 countries and regions, including government agencies, corporations, educational institutions, and nongovernmental organizations. The mission of the GSA is to increase the number and diversity of students in the STEM pipeline, with a goal of reaching 1 million students in 100 countries by 2020. By providing hands-on research projects, mentoring opportunities with leading STEM experts, and a comprehensive, tech-based learning platform, the GSA arms students with the skills they need for successful careers. The programs of the GSA are geared toward under-served groups, with the special goal of reducing the skills gap between education and the workforce. For more information on how to get involved, visit and follow us on Twitter @STEMAlliance.

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


Marie Gentile
Director, Communications