Mehaa- One drop closer to the finish line

In this blog, I will be talking about how I conducted my experiments.

When I created my first prototype for my video entry for the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge, I used readily available materials and parts, but right now, I am making a prototype that can be immediately industrialized. When I changed a part or its material of construction, my design was greatly impacted.  When the mechanical property and ruggedness of my design improved, the performance worsened, and vice versa in some cases. One main aspect I focused on, was the type of adhesive that I will be using for my prototype, and since there are so many glue materials available in the market, I had to spend quite some time researching about various adhesives.

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Creating my prototype required many visits to the hardware store, as that is where I bought everything from small screws to power drills. I even bought a small vice and installed it on a table in my backyard and it has dramatically changed the way i’ve been able to cut and drill. I’ve learnt how to cut holes in any size, in any material without damaging it , and now I also know the difference between an ordinary file and a thread file. I even know how to thread a pipe outside and inside and the difference between a regular nut and a waste nut. The world we live in is full of solutions for so many problems, but we have to navigate through to figure out which solutions make the world we live in better.

The Bernoulli equation was an important part of my experimental journey. Even though the actual equation in its full form is a bit overwhelming, the part that is useful for my project is simple but powerful. Have you ever seen an overhead tank in your city or village?  Deciding how tall it needs to be can be easily found out with the Bernoulli equation, if you know how many houses you need to supply with water. The same equation governs the flow of water in various parts of my dual water toilet flushing system. The point I am trying to make here is that sometimes the results that we are trying to get by trial and error might be very easily available in some existing scientific equation.  Look for scientific principles behind your experiments, and you may reduce the amount of time you need to experiment. You may also be able to calculate most of your results using equations governing those principles and your requirement may be just to verify your calculation using experiments before you finalize the design.  

Next, keep an eye out for accidental discoveries. When you do not get the results that you want, analyze the alternative results more closely and you may get lucky and discover more than what you initially planned for. In my research I also encountered an accidental discovery that lead to an exceptional design of my system. It helps to remember how Penicillin was discovered by Alexander Fleming as a mere coincidence.

As my experiments proceeded, I had several questions regarding my project and water flow that I needed some input on. Dr. Hanson arranged for a meeting with three other water science experts from 3M and I got important feedback from them. I would like to thank Dr. Gustavo Castro, Mr. Benton Free and Mr. Garrett Lukin for their invaluable suggestions for my project.

I have completed all the necessary experiments for my project and now I am in the process of preparing my final presentation, and I will also be shipping my prototype to 3M very soon. Now that school has started, I am glad that I could take care of a large part of my research project in the summer. My school newsletter also carried an article about my participation in this summer mentorship and my friends are also super  happy to hear about my experiences in this Journey. I hope you are too!

Mehaa A