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Students discover mosquito repellant in papaya leaves

Kaustubh Kulkarni  |  Pune 

paya.jpg align=left>Papaya leaves can be used for driving away mosquitoes. About 150 different colour combinations can be created using vegetables to develop ink to be used for permanent and non-permanent marker pens.

These interesting claims are not made by scientists or researchers from universities but by school children studying in eighth and ninth standard. And, interestingly, to support and encourage their penchant for scientific research, and even to commercialise their scientific breakthroughs, they have help at hand.

School children grouped under Initiative for Research and Innovation in Science (IRIS), did extensive research activities and finally brought about surprising results that no one could have thought about. IRIS 2007 was organised by Intel Education in collaboration with the Confederation of Indian Industry and Department of Science and Technology.

IRIS, which is being held for the last three years across the country, this time reached more than 25,000 schools in almost every State. Bright students from these schools were made to work on innovative ideas by their teachers, which led to interesting results.

The 'IRIS 07' winners from different categories were given prizes by founder and former Director of National Centre for Radio Astrophysics, Govind Swaroop. A project by Pooja Dholakiya and Riddhi Dashani from SG Dholakiya Memorial High School was one of the national prize winning efforts.

"All the marker pens and sketch pens use petro-chemical inks. This combination might prove harmful to children who love to use sketch pens or markers.

We have extracted colours from vegetables and fruits to develop a herbal ink that can be used in all types of pens," Pooja and Riddhi told Business Standard.

Neha Kulkarni and Divya Venkatraman, students of Modern English School, Mumbai, won a national-level prize for their experiments with papaya leaves. The students mixed the extract of papaya leaves in a candle. Once the candle starts burning, it works as a mosquito repellent.

"We have seen that the chemicals used to drive away mosquitoes are not environment friendly. While working on various herbal solutions, we found that leaves of papaya tree can work as mosquito repellent," said Neha and Divya.

Another national winner, Ambud Sharma from Sunbeam School, Varanasi, has developed a system that controls the increasing temperature of CPU of a computer.

"I have used a cooling system in which, water flows through the CPU and absorbs heat of various parts without damaging them. It costs only Rs 300 per computer and the speed and life of the micro processor increases," Ambud said.

The IRIS 07 programme winners would now represent India at international events. "So far, our winners are coming from English medium schools. We want students from vernacular medium schools to lead this programme," said Rahul Bedi, director, Corporate Affairs, Intel. Intel has invested $ 10 million in the programme.

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First Published: Tue, December 18 2007. 00:00 IST