When Jianna Nichols tackles a problem, she goes all out.
Just ask those behind the National Invention Convention and Entrepreneurship Expo, where she has placed with projects three years in a row.
The 13-year-old Tippecanoe Middle School student earlier this summer placed second in the seventh-grade category for her project, “Rido Red.” She also was recognized with the Best Display Board Award at the convention at The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation in Dearborn, Mich.
The competition is organized by the STEMIE Coalition, a non-profit founded to elevate K-12 STEM, or science, technology, engineering and math education.
Nichols first placed in state competition to advance to the national event along with 436 student inventors from 20 states and two other countries.
Nichols based her project on Red Dye 40 and finding an easier way for those to identify foods containing it. Her allergy was discovered as a kindergarten student when she ate a pink-colored marshmallow.
“Since one third of a million people in the U.S. are allergic to Red Dye 40, I am trying to solve the problem of not being able to know for sure whether my food has Red Dye 40 in it every time I eat food outside of my home or get food from grocery stores,” Nichols said.
Her Rido Red is a small portable device that has a safe chemical based strip inside made from a natural chemical compound, Mangosteen concentrate, Nichols said. It can detect Red Dye 40 in food and comes with an app featuring food items from restaurants and the grocery that contain Red Dye 40 for user convenience.
“Another element involves data collection through the app that I built, every test result can be added to this app accessible to anyone who has a smartphone,” Nichols said.
She and her mother, Jewel Nichols, said countless hours were spent in libraries, including the Tipp City Public Library, for Jianna to do her research. She worked with the Girls Who Code group at the Tipp City library on developing the app.
Jianna first participated in the invention program as a fifth grader with her award-winning Magic Hairband and last year also was recognized for an earlier version of the Red Dye 40 project. The first version was a prototype, Jewell Nichols said. This year’s advanced product works and includes the app.
Jianna Nichols said she is interested in studying mechanical engineering in college. Until then, she plans to continue participating in the invention convention. Because of the program timetable, she already has her next project — a game for the blind and people with sight so they can play together — ready for sharing.
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