Posts Tagged ‘ superstorm ’

11-Year-Old Boy Wins Prize for Developing Advanced Sandbag

Friday, October 11th, 2013

An 11-year-old Florida boy has won the top prize at a major science fair with his invention of a sandbag that could save property and lives in the event of saltwater floods.  More from NBC News:

“Living in Florida, I’m keenly aware of hurricanes and saltwater flooding,” the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge grand prize winner Peyton Robertson, who is a sixth grader at the Pine Crest School in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., told NBC News.

“Super-storm Sandy really got me concerned about how people can prepare for that damage from flooding. But today, the most common method of flood protection is sandbags. They are really heavy and difficult to transport and leave gaps in between the bags. So, I redesigned the bag,” he explained.

Instead of sand, his bag is filled with a mixture of salt and an expandable polymer. When dry, it is lightweight, easy to move and easy to store. Once the bag is positioned, such as to create a barrier around a house, users hose it down with water. The polymer absorbs the water, swells and fills the volume of the bag.

“I use salt so they are heavier than any approaching seawater … but the twist is when you add salt to the bag it reduces the swelling of the polymer so you need to recalculate how much you put in,” Robertson explained.

In other words, the young scientist, who is already taking pre-calculus and trigonometry, realized an interaction between his super-absorbent polymer and salt that required him to calculate the precise mixture to add to the bag so that the full volume fills when water is added.

The bags also have a novel interlocking mechanism that connects them at their midpoints in order to prevent gaps that floodwaters can penetrate.

Robertson tested the bags in the bathtub and a kiddie pool where they easily outperformed traditional sand-filled sandbags. He next hopes to test them “in a real hurricane situation because that is the only way to figure out what glitches or whatever might be in the solution.”

As winner of the Young Scientist Challenge, he was named “America’s Top Young Scientist” at an award ceremony on Tuesday that also comes with the $25,000 check, which he can spend however he pleases, though has expressed interest in saving it for college.

Image: Sandbags, via Shutterstock

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NY Hospital Staff Traverse 9 Flights of Stairs to Evacuate Sick Babies

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

NYU Langone Medical Center in Lower Manhattan, out of power from both main sources and backup generators and facing 10-12 feet of water in the wake of the superstorm Sandy, evacuated all patients yesterday and this morning, including its newborns and ill babies. Hospital staff carried the young patients down 9 flights of stairs to evacuate them safely from the building, as CNN.com reports:

The evacuation was moving more slowly than expected, according to hospital spokeswoman Lisa Grenier. About 40 patients remained to be evacuated at 9 a.m. Tuesday, she said. Brotman said earlier that he anticipated the evacuation would last until around 6:30 a.m.

The dawn of a new day, however, brought some help. “At least there’s daylight coming in through the windows,” Grenier said.

Four of the newborns were on respirators that were breathing for them, and when the power went out, each baby was carried down nine flights of stairs while a nurse manually squeezed a bag to deliver air to the baby’s lungs.

“This is a labor-intensive, extremely difficult process,” Brotman said.

Image: Emergency stairs, via Shutterstock

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