Appealing Design

What do you do if you have plants that need water, but it hasn't rained for a very long time? You use a Superabsorbant Polymer, of course! A superabsorbant polymer, or SAP, is a large molecule that slowly releases water into the soil around plants. Farmers use them in places with frequent droughts so their vegetables and other crops get the water they need. But there are two problems with SAPs: they are expensive, and they are usually not biodegradable, which means they don't break down and they become pollution.

Here's a kid engineer who is helping to solve these problems: Kiara Nirghin, from Johannesburg, South Africa! She tested orange peels and avocado skins to see if they could be a natural, cheaper replacement for chemical SAPs. She was inspired to invent this solution because South Africa has had some very bad droughts. This means that fresh vegetables where she lives are often expensive and hard to find at the market. For her design, Kiara reused orange peels that are normally thrown away. She tested them in her kitchen at home, turning them into SAPs.

What could you do in your kitchen to solve a real problem? Show us your ideas in the design section!

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