Cary 11th grader competes in international STEM competition

Local News

RALEIGH, N.C.(WNCN)- A high school student in Cary participated in an international STEM competition on Thursday.

The student was one of 20 teams from around the world to get to the finals of the 2020 Spellman High Voltage Electronics Clean Tech Competition.

While some teams were made up of several students, the team from Green Hope High School in Cary only included Pranav Wagh.

He said he was nervous the morning of the competition but ultimately felt he’d prepared as much as he could.

“Now that I’m on the other side of it, I’m glad with what I did and happy that it turned out the way I wanted it to,” said Wagh.

The rising 11th grader said while taking an AP geography class, he learned farmers in developing countries are dealing with poor soil quality and over management by large agriculture companies. He said many individual farmers have a hard time being self-sufficient because of “agro-imperialism”.

“I knew that this wasn’t good and something had to be done about it,” said Wagh.

When he entered the competition, Wagh decided he would propose a new app to help the farmers. The smartphone app could provide information farmers need to make decisions about irrigation and what to plant based on their soil and location. He said it could also help people who are looking to buy land understand what they’re buying.

He said the app could help make farming more sustainable by using less chemical based fertilizers and reducing water usage.

Wagh received positive feedback from the judges, one calling him brilliant.

“I’ve done my best and what ever happens, happens. I’m trying to not to obsess too much about it, that would just be bad,” said Wagh.

Wagh competed against teams from as far away as Singapore, India, Philippines and Canada. Several teams were from the United States.

This STEM competition was sponsored by the Center for Science Teaching & Learning.

Teams competed in two categories: limited resources and abundant resources.

This year’s theme is “Reducing Individual Impacts”.

“The idea behind this competition is students using only clean technology innovate solutions to the world’s problems,” said Dr. Ray Ann Havasy, director of Center for Science, Teaching & Learning.

Dr. Havasy said there are some differences in the topics students hone in on.

“The students from India or Philippines are coming from countries where there are a lack of resources so you can tell they are worried about their fellow communities the people that live in their communities. So, they’re projects seem to be helping their home communities. Kids from the United States tend to think more broadly. They seem to think of the world, or maybe helping country in Africa,” said Dr. Havasy.

As a result of COVID-19, the teams presented virtually via Zoom this year. Their presentations were live streamed on Facebook.

Winners were scheduled to be announced Friday morning through a virtual awards ceremony.

There is a total of $60,000 in prize money. First place winners in each category will receive $10,000. Second place is slated for $7,000 with $5,000 going to the third place team.

“It’s about what you really do with it. Where do go with this? Who do you tell about it so maybe it can help others?,” said Dr. Havasay.

He has a several years until he steps into a career but Wagh said he’s planning on something computer sciences.

“I also aim to keep on paying attention the the environment and seeing if any problems arise and see if i can play a part in taking steps to solve them,” Wagh said.

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