Inside South Florida


Celebrating Innovation: The Toshiba National Science Teaching Association ExploreVision Awards

Posted at 3:05 AM, Jun 19, 2024

Disclaimer: This Inside South Florida segment is sponsored by Toshiba NSTA ExploraVision. All opinions and views are of the advertiser and does not reflect the same of WSFL-TV.

This year marks the 32nd anniversary of the world's largest K-12 science competition, the Toshiba National Science Teaching Association (NSTA) ExploreVision Awards. The event was held at the prestigious National Press Club, where renowned scientist and TV host Justin "Mr. Fascinate" Shaifer introduced the winners of this year's competition.

The Toshiba NSTA ExploreVision Challenge stands out as a premier event in the realm of science education. It invites young minds from kindergarten through 12th grade to envision future technological advancements and devise innovative solutions to potential problems. Shaifer, celebrated for his efforts in promoting science education, emphasized the competition's role in broadening students' imaginations and opening doors to careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

This year's standout project is the "Allergen Detector," a compact scanner that clips onto a shirt and utilizes scent and visual technology to detect allergens in food. The visual component employs image recognition to identify ingredients by comparing food images with a database. The scent technology analyzes odor molecules, sending signals to a database to identify potential allergens. The device then indicates safety levels with colored lights: green for safe, yellow for cross-contamination, and red for specific allergens.

The young inventors behind the Allergen Detector drew inspiration from personal experience. One of the team members has food allergies, and they aimed to create a tool to help others with similar concerns feel more confident when trying new foods at restaurants.

Each year, ExploreVision attracts thousands of innovative projects, and this year was no exception. Among the top honorees were:

  • Mycelial Batteries: These extend battery lifespans by incorporating fungi.
  • Skin Cancer Screening Machines: Utilizing artificial intelligence, these devices screen for cancer by analyzing uploaded images.
  • Cyber School: An AI-powered teaching device that offers personalized learning, especially beneficial for students with limited access to quality education.

Shaifer underscored the importance of programs like ExploreVision in fostering early engagement with scientific practices. "These programs provide young people with hands-on experience in science, helping them develop familiarity with complex terms and practices," he said. "It’s extremely important for programs like ExploreVision to exist because it gives young people the opportunity to engage in the practice of science… so that when they go into internships, laboratories, or trying to start their own business one day, they can be the brilliant confident scientists that I know that they can be."
For more information about the Allergen Detector, other award-winning projects, or to submit a project for next year's competition, visit

Inside South Florida

10:49 AM, Jul 26, 2019

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