A spark of brilliance can reveal itself to anyone, irrespective of their age and education. Two gifted students from Bihar, Gopal Jee and Shalini Kumari, have proved just that with their brilliant innovations.
Studying in class 12 in Model High School in Naugachia town of Bhagalpur district, Gopal Jee has invented an eco-friendly means of producing electricity from banana stems. Shalini Kumari, a passout of Shree Chandra Senior Secondary High School in Digha near Patna, has ideated a walker that also helps people climb stairs.
According to a report by The Times of India, Gopal competed at a national programme implemented by the Department of Science and Technology, “Innovation in Science Pursuit for Inspired Research (INSPIRE)”, while Shalini’s idea was recognised by the National Innovation Foundation (NIF), an autonomous body of the Department of Science and Technology, set up to provide institutional support to innovators.
Talking about his idea, Gopal told TOI, “I got the idea when I was in Class IX. One day my shirt got stained from the banana juice and it was impossible to remove it. I asked my teachers and they made me realize that acid leaves a similar stain. I got curious and thought if banana juice is acidic in nature, it can produce electricity as a battery fluid does.”
Gopal’s farmer father Prem Ranjan Kumar has a banana plantation. Though the town of Naugachia is famous for its banana plantation, the area gets flooded almost every year. Having seen his father’s entire farm destroyed in the 2008 monsoons, Gopal wishes to use his idea to utilise all the waste to create green energy.
“I bought two electrodes — one zinc and one copper — and placed them in a cell and connected them to two lengths of banana stems measuring one foot each. This produced 3 volts of electricity, enough to light one LED bulb for three hours. To produce electricity further, I added more stems and electrodes and created a circuit that would produce up to 12 volts of electricity,” he said.
He says that his invention helps his sister and him study at night during power outages.
Shalini got the idea for the walker after her grandfather, an ardent lover of gardening, had an accident and could not climb the stairs to reach his terrace garden.
The daughter of a businessman and a homemaker, Shalini decided to help her grandfather. She also received an IGNITE award by late President A P J Abdul Kalam in 2011. Now she has developed a prototype with the help of NIF. The walker has spring-loaded, self-locking front legs, which help navigate stairs easily.
Her invention has been showcased in several exhibitions and has won her accolades. She visited the Rashtrapati Bhavan this year in March for its in-residence programme.