When it comes to thinking outside the (lunch) box for innovative solutions to global problems, age is no barrier.
Sophie Barling, from St Bernard’s Primary School in Batehaven, has been recognised as one of Australia’s top young inventors for her healthy lunch idea.
Sophie’s award winning idea is called ‘Lunch Mate’, and is designed to monitor nutritional food value in lunchboxes and encourage healthier food options.
‘Lunch Mate’ is a digital device that attaches the side of a lunch box, and measures the nutritional content of the food inside, rating it via red and green light signals.
She, along with over 3000 other primary school students, entered Origin’s littleBIGidea competition, and is one of just 11 other young inventors to make the finals.
Sophie was awarded with $1,000 and has been to Melbourne for a design workshop.
At the workshop, she had the opportunity to create a prototype of her idea, to be a part of her video pitch to be crowned one of national winners, and win a trip to NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre in the USA. Winners also get to visit Epcot Theme Park at Disneyworld and Ripley's Believe It or Not.
Engineers Without Borders Australia volunteer lead, and member of the judging panel Anna Cain said the young talent on display was inspirational.
“It's been inspiring to see all the positive ideas and inventions submitted, and it’s exciting to think about how these little ideas could actually come to life and make an impact in the world,” she said.
“There have many outstanding submissions this year, with students inspired by their thoughtful observations and empathy to help others and improve the world around us.”
Origin CEO Frank Calabria said the submissions were “overwhelming”.
“Congratulations to Sophie, and to everyone who submitted an idea this year,” he said.
“We have been overwhelmed by the range of great ideas and record number of submissions we received, and are thrilled with the 12 finalists whose ideas demonstrate extraordinary creativity and innovation.
“We are proud of the role that littleBIGidea plays in encouraging and highlighting the creativity of young Australians.”