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12-year-old develops innovative fire detection system after neighborhood restaurant burns down

At just 12 years old, Shanya Gill claimed the Junior Scientist title and $25,000 prize for her groundbreaking fire detection system.

12-year-old develops innovative fire detection system after neighborhood restaurant burns down
Cover Image Source: YouTube | SocietyforScience

Fire safety systems are crucial devices in every household. A reliable system can prevent severely damaging disasters from happening. Recently, 12-year-old Shanya Gill won an astounding $25,000 in a science fair for her highly innovative fire detection system. According to the Society for Science, the system has proved to be quicker, more affordable and more reliable than conventional smoke detectors. The girl who studies at Miller Middle School in San Jose, California, secured first place after close competition from Keshvee Sekhda and Maya Gandhi, as per the outlet's finalists list.

Image Source: Society for Science
Image Source: Society for Science

Sekhda developed a smartphone app to detect various forms of cancer. Gandhi came up with an experimental way of generating electricity from plant cells. The Thermo Fisher Scientific Junior Innovator's Challenge, which claims to be the country's "premier STEM" competition for young science enthusiasts, allows over 65,000 children in middle school to find inspiration and pursue higher studies in science-related fields. Gill's inspiration for the project came out of a fire that destroyed a restaurant located behind her house in 2022.

Image Source: Society for Science
Image Source: Society for Science

Her invention comes from a simple method of connecting an affordable thermal camera to a computer. The girl set it up in a way that the system could distinguish people and other heat sources. People could be tracked as objects of warmth that moved horizontally, while more dangerous sources of heat, such as a flame on a stove, remained stationary. In case the system detected a stationary heat source without a human presence for over 10 minutes continuously, it would send a text message.


The system was able to detect a human presence 98% of the time and heat sources 97% of the time. In an interview video on the SocietyforScience channel on YouTube, she revealed how the restaurant burned down because of a lack of smoke detectors. Gill said, "It was because they detected fires too late cause they had to wait for smoke to rise." She explained how her device would detect "unattended fires" much faster.


For the device to be put to use at a larger scale, she stated how she was doing experiments to place the device on the ceiling, similar to a smoke detector. It would allow the device to draw power from existing circuits and have a bigger view of the room it's in. It seems that many youngsters are coming up with their own inventions to provide solutions to real-world problems.


In another story where a teenager came up with an innovative solution, Aarav Anil, a 17-year-old, created a smart spoon that would help Parkinson's patients eat their food independently without any assistance, reports The Guardian. He worked with an institution in India to augment his initial design to make improvements. Anil hopes that the invention will be cleared by the concerned regulatory bodies and be produced on a massive scale. He was prompted to create the device after seeing how the condition affected his uncle in his daily life.


Speaking about his work, Anil said: "I've been fine-tuning the design based on the college's feedback–that it needs to be waterproof so that it can be washed without damaging all the electronics inside; that it must be detachable so it can be cleaned and replaced by a fork; and the spoon needs to be deeper to hold more food." While there are many other devices in the market, Anil plans to make his product more affordable without any compromises in quality.

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