Pretty River Academy student takes home top science prize –


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Sia Mehta’s project – The Smart Sorter – took home the gold at the Simcoe County Regional Science Fair, as well as a Ted Rogers Innovation Award

A sixth grade Pretty River Academy student’s science fair project could make the recycling process a little bit smarter.

Sia Mehta, a Grade 6 student from Collingwood, took home the gold medal in the Grade 4 to 6 earth and environmental sciences category at the Simcoe County Regional Science Fair, and was also one of 61 students across Canada to receive a Ted Rogers Innovation Award through Youth Science Canada.

“I’ve always cared about the environment,” Mehta told “I had watched a video about the process our recycling goes through at a recycling plant, and I was amazed at the amount of garbage that ends up in recycling bins because people don’t know where to put their garbage.”

This revelation led to Mehta coming up with the idea for The Smart Sorter.

The Smart Sorter uses a colour sensor to detect recyclable bottles and cans. The sorter acts as a lid for the bin, with a tube attached. A bottle or can would be placed in the tube where a barrier in the tube allows a colour sensor to look for a coloured dot on the bottle.

If the correct colour dot is sensed, the door will open to allow the bottle or can to fall into the bin. If not, a beeping noise alerts the person who disposed of the item. To determine which colour dot would be printed on the bottle, a Mindstorms and an Arduino sensor was used to test 12 different coloured dots for accuracy.

“My brother taught me how to code,” said Mehta. “I chose the colour based on how accurately they could be sensed. A certain shade of blue was the one that worked the best.”

Upon hearing the news she won gold in her category, Mehta says she felt proud.

“I was really happy and excited,” she said. “I think it’s really important that we keep trying to find solutions for problems.”

Mehta notes she’s also on the robotics team at her school, and has always had an interest in science and technology. When she gets older, she says she’d like to explore a career in that field.

“I’m not quite sure, but I might like to be an architect,” she said.

The Ted Rogers Innovation Award was added to programming in 2018 to recognize Canadian students who express an entrepreneurial spirit and demonstrate commercial potential for their project. Along with a $100 cash prize, award winners are also eligible to receive enrolment tuition in the week-long Youth Science Canada/York University STEM boot camp, held annually in August through the Bergeron Entrepreneurs in Science and Technology program.

Mehta’s mother Anuja says there were times when the project may have seemed like a bust, but Mehta pushed through.

“I am so proud of her. She put in a lot of hard work. There are always points in these projects where it feels impossible and they don’t know how to go ahead. But the kids just have to push through,” said Anuja. “There’s a lot of learning that goes into it. The accolades are just the icing on the cake.”

To see more about Mehta’s project, click here.

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