Va. teens win big with allergy-focused invention

Kilmer Middle School principal Douglas Tyson stands between 8th graders Pallavi Bhave (left) and Joyce Tian. The girls\' entry in the ExploraVision science and technology competition won a regional award. Each of the girls won a Toshiba HD camcorder and their school won a Toshiba laptop. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)

WASHINGTON – For those who suffer from food allergies, their next bite can often be a leap of faith.

In the near future, however, that may change with an invention by two Vienna, Va., eighth graders.

Kilmer Middle School classmates, Pallavi Bhave and Joyce Tian, won the Toshiba NSTA ExploraVision science competition after coming up with the concept for an UltraViolet laser machine that can detect 50 common allergens.

Bhave says it’s a simple idea.

“When a user points the laser at the food, they can tell what allergens the food has,” she says.

Bhave says she came up with the idea after talking around the kitchen table with her family.

The contest looks at ideas that could be implemented 20 years into the future.

“We do have a model that basically says how does it work,” Tian says, but they don’t actually have a working model.

Both girls say they want to be scientists when they become adults.

The first place price comes with savings bonds worth $10,000 for each girl.

They also will get a trip to Washington next month for an awards weekend and some guidance on how to patent their invention.

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