North County High School students Jack Andraka and Chloe Diggs recently captured the gold medal and $50,000 in prize money in the Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge, which encourages student teams to identify an environmental issue that has global impact and provide a viable, replicable solution.

Teams were required to select an environmental topic relating to energy, biodiversity, land management, water conservation & clean-up, and/or air & climate. Jack and Chloe created a microfluidic biosensor to monitor water contaminants rapidly, inexpensively, and easily. They also developed an inexpensive water filter made from plastic water bottles and amino acids. The biosensor is nearly 200,000 times less expensive and simpler to use than current sensors, and maintains acceptable sensitivity and operation time levels. The filter is 42 times less expensive than current filters and is easier to produce.

“This scientific research and the competitions that we are in would be meaningless if they did not leave a lasting effect on our society and generations to come,” Chloe said. “Working with Jack was a great pleasure, and I cannot wait to continue developing the filter and witnessing the impact it will make.”

Jack and Chloe are competing in the I-SWEEEP, the International Sustainable World (Energy, Engineering, Environment) Project Olympiad, this weekend in Houston, Texas.

I-SWEEEP is the largest science fair event of its kind in the world. It is organized by the Cosmos Foundation, a non-profit educational organization in Houston with a mission to establish college preparatory K-12 schools focusing on math, science, engineering, and computer technologies in an effort to provide a world-class education to the public. I-SWEEEP is organized with the support of K-12 public school systems, leaders of industry, and higher education institutions, and works with local, national, and international science fair organizations to bring together the top-ranking students and their qualifying projects.

The pair will also compete in the Stockholm Junior Water Prize, which recognizes work in water and environmental science, in Sweden this summer.