Bioplastic earns top science fair prize for teen scientist

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In California, young scientist Jacqueline Prawira has won a top award at the BROADCOM Masters science fair for her bioplastics made from paper, cotton, and corn husks.

Prawira, 14, was one of about 4,000 scientists competing for various awards at the fair.  She won the Marconi/Samueli Award for Innovation, which includes a $10,000 prize.

“It was a long journey, from my school science fair in the classroom, the actual school science fair, then to my county, then state, and then up to the BROADCOM Masters level, and then that fateful day when I got that call about the award,” Prawira tells Inverse.

Prawira found that bioplastics made with paper fibers were strongest and that adding more cotton fibers made the material more flexible. “I made my plastic this way so it can be a disposable plastic for items that we use in everyday life—so that way, we can upcycle the garbage, instead of sending it to the landfill where it can end up in the ocean,” she adds.

Now a freshman in high school, Prawira hopes to study environmental engineering when she reaches college.