Leia Gluckman is a California seventh-grader who just made a simple, yet brilliant invention. It's a heartfelt one, too.
A 3-in-1 hygiene powder that acts as a toothpaste, body powder, and dry shampoo.
Simple? Check. Brilliant? Absolutely. But where does the heartfelt part come into play?
Noticing a need
Since she was a young girl, Gluckman has volunteered in shelters for homeless teens that her mother has helped run. While there, she served meals, joined them on art projects, and worked to collect supplies, like clothing.
While speaking to the website Science News For Students, Gluckman said that the items that the homeless were asking for more than anything were hygiene products. It makes sense. The homeless are without things like regular running water and soap. Staying clean is important for everything from health, to looking good when trying to get a job to turn things around.
It got Gluckman thinking: What if she could create a product that fills this need, even if clean water wasn't available?
Testing, testing, testing
To work, the hygiene powder needed to do a few things. Her list of features included...
- Absorb sweat and oil
- Smell pleasant
- Taste good
- Clean teeth
- Kill bacteria safely
- Be biodegradable
- Be cheap
- Last a long time (or won't go bad quickly)
Whoa! It's an intimidating list, but Gluckman got right down to work. She compared ingredient lists on other hygiene products out there, and started making her own recipes based on common ingredients she found. Then she tested them to see how well they cleaned hair, washed skin, and worked as a toothpaste. Did they smell good? Did the smell last? Could it get a food stain off of your teeth?
Ready to use
Her final three recipes were presented at the finals for the Broadcom MASTERS science competition in California. (This is a middle-grade competition based around Math, Applied Science, Technology, and Engineering.) Each recipes contains baking powder, which is excellent at absorbing odors and oil, and salt, which is abrasive enough to remove dirt. Then she used different combinations of spices and herbs to create different smells and tastes.
Gluckman says that she isn't finished improving her hygiene powder, but her thoughtfulness and intelligence are already clear to us. Way to go!