A young Canberra student has won a national young inventors' competition and a trip to NASA, thanks to her drive to make toys more environmentally friendly.
Bella Winfield, 11, who attends St Anthony's Parish Primary School in Wanniassa, entered the fourth year of Origin's Little Big Ideas competition, which encourages children to think creatively about solutions to real world problems.
From more than 1000 entries, Bella's sugarcane plastic toys idea was chosen as the winner of the Grade 5-6 category.
"I was really surprised because I didn't think it would happen," she said.
Her idea is to make wider use of raw sugarcane pulp bioplastic in children's toys.
Sugarcane ethanol can be substituted for petroleum to make plastic, which is recyclable.
After her school received a delivery of sugarcane plastic water bottles, Bella asked why other plastic products were not using the material.
"I always wanted to start a doll company when I was older, but I didn't want it to be with plastic because it would be really bad for the earth," she said.
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"So when I found out about the sugarcane plastic in water bottles and stuff, I was really excited because now I knew how I would be able to have a doll company."
She developed her idea further in late October, when she attended an Engineers Without Borders design workshop with 12 other finalists in Sydney.
She said the idea combines a number of her interests.
"I like toys, I like the environment, and I like writing books and designing and that kind of thing- and it basically involves all of it."
Bella found out she won the competition at a school assembly, where it perhaps wasn't the most perfectly executed of surprise announcements.
"I did kind of half guess it when I walked into assembly and Mum and Dad were there," she said.
"Everyone was really excited about it and happy for me."
As one of three national winners, Bella has won a trip to the NASA Kennedy Space Centre in the US.
"I'm really excited about it and I'm thinking about it a lot," she said.
"I get to meet the people at NASA and I'll probably ask them about fun facts about the planets"
Bella's whole family will travel with her state-side early next year and, in addition to the NASA visit, she said they are all looking forward to going to Disneyland.
"I'm probably not going to go on any roller coasters, unless they're the really slow ones," she said.
"I want to meet all the characters and watch the parade".
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November 16, 2017 at 09:51AM
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