Four Cheshire students were recognized as finalists at the Connecticut Science & Engineering Fair at Quinnipiac University last month.
Avery Fowler and Luke Machado of St. Bridget School received awards for their submissions of a homemade livestock identification system and a demonstration model for disaster-resilient architecture, respectively.
Two other students, Suchita Srinivasan and Shangyu Xu from Cheshire High School, also received accolades for a domestic violence alerting device and a network for cataloging phenotype information to assist those with diseased genes, respectively.
Fowler, an eighth-grade student, received the most awards at the event for her homemade livestock identification system, receiving $1,110 in prize money and recognition from Stanley Black & Decker, Lockheed Martin, the Petit Family Foundation, and others.
She said that the prospect of showing off her system at the fair and demonstrating her talent for coding was an exciting one. “I was really excited because I don’t think a lot of people know about coding or animal identification systems. So, I really liked having the opportunity to tell more people about it, because it’s something that a lot of people I think find very interesting.”
Machado, a seventh-grade student, received $500 in prize money for his architecture demonstration, along with recognition from Pepsico, the Society of Women Engineers, the Otis Elevator Company, and others. He too felt excited to have received those awards for demonstrating his passion for engineering at the fair.
“It felt really good. I was really excited and proud of myself that I was making it this far,” Machado said.
Srinivasan received a trophy from the Connecticut Invention Convention, along with an invitation to compete in their next event this summer, on June 10th, while Xu was a finalist for the Life Science Awards and received a medallion from the science fair.
Fowler got the inspiration for her system because her parents own Yippee Farms, meaning she often works around animals — specifically goats. When she found there was difficulty being able to tell the differences between two of their twin goats, she looked up identification systems that farmers commonly use, and found that the cheapest among them cost around $4,000.
Rather than pay for the system, Fowler used her expertise from the robotics team she participates in to code and develop her own system, which scans the chips and tags on animals, only costing her around $150 to develop. She is currently still working on developing the system, creating an app, and working to use a 3D printer to make it even more portable. Though Fowler has no plans to patent her device, she wishes to make the code freely available online so others can also develop and use it for their own projects.
“I found out systems like this did exist, but they were very expensive, which most farmers can’t afford. So I decided to make my own system. We would be able to see all the animals’ information just by scanning their microchips,” Fowler said, “My next step for this project would be to 3D-print a case for it because I’d like to learn 3D printing. I’m pretty interested in it, so it’ll also help make it more portable and easier to bring outside and carry around near the animals.”
Fowler was also chosen as Town Scholar by Cheshire Academy for her avid interest in science and she received a full scholarship to the school for her high school career.
Machado, on the other hand, was inspired to pursue his project after seeing the uptick in natural disasters across the world, so he created a slope on which he built several towers with different foundations, using it to simulate how they held up in various conditions such as landslides and floods.
“We’re in a time in our world right now where a lot of landslides, wind storms, and floods are becoming increasingly common. And so I think that I need to study the variables when doing a structure that can withstand these disasters, so we can understand the construction design for us to reduce the structure’s vulnerability to disaster,” Machado said.
He expressed an interest, much like Fowler, to continue developing the project into the future, pursuing and deepening their passion for engineering.
A full list of awards for the 2023 fair is available online at the Connecticut Science & Engineering Fair’s website.