Bionic Porcupines 2.0
Innovative Students Receive National Award for Life-Saving Invention
Inspired by the airplane bird strike “Miracle on the Hudson”, four Sandy sixth-grade students invented a bionic scarecrow that could very well save lives and, as a result, has earned them national recognition and the honor of beating out thousands of young people across the nation to win the prestigious President’s Environmental Youth Award.
The President’s Environmental Youth Award is special and only awarded to those that demonstrate environmental awareness. “These amazing youth are exemplary leaders, committed to strong environmental stewardship and problem solving,” according to EPA Acting Deputy Regional Administrator Suzanne Bohan.
This award dates to 1971, the year following the first Earth Day and the EPA’s creation. Since that time, the President of the United States and the EPA use the following criteria to determine those worthy of this honor: environmental need, completion of goals, environmental impact, soundness of approach, project innovation and community involvement.
Given the location of the Salt Lake City International Airport near a wetlands and migratory route for thousands of birds, the self-named Bionic Porcupines team, resolved to find a way to prevent injury and potentially death from aircraft bird strikes. As they researched they came across the use of “air dancers,” fabric tubes that flail about when filled with air and are often used to draw attention for mattress or car sales.
With great ingenuity, they spun off that simple idea, creating a small, portable, battery-operated air dancer that becomes a highly effective air scarecrow for birds. The prototype was very successful in their testing at the airport, helping to scare off geese where they have historically gathered in an airport field.
Now they have a patent underway and clearly, the sky is the limit for where these youth will go, not only with this invention, but in their lives.