VA high schoolers make it to the national finals in NASA STEM competition


NORTHERN VIRGINIA (WDVM) — Five Virginia high school students have made it to the finals in a national STEM competition hosted by NASA and Texas Instruments.

Northern Virginia residents Samyak Thapa, Vishnu Lakshmanan, Ashish Pothireddy, Anish Pothireddy and Santiago Campos-Merida decided to enter the competition together when the COVID-19 quarantine hit. The team wanted to find an innovative way to use their time off.

The competition, called “TI Codes”, tasked the group with innovating a process on the International Space Station. Inspired by the current pandemic, the team decided to create a prototype that could sanitize the air and surfaces via a UV light in the ISS.

“We saw this as a unique opportunity to develop something that we could also implement here, on earth, so we decided to tackle sanitation,” said Anish Pothireddy.

Their idea qualified them to move on to the final phase of the competition, making their team, “Blinding Lights,” one of the ten finalists in the nation. The prize for the winning team is a trip to the NASA headquarters in Houston.

The competition is based on votes, so the team is asking the community to help push them past the finish line. You can view their video about their prototype and vote here.


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