Team Details
Location
Pennington, NJ
School/Organization
Hopewell Valley Central High School
Award Status
2nd Place
Team Category
High School
Directory Project Image
A Concrete Solution
Project Info
Team Members
Akhansha Arvind, Nadia Chasalow, Olivia Kim, Sarah Mian
Coach(es)
Margarita Trujillo
What is the problem your team addressed for this challenge and how is it related to climate change?
Our team addressed the lack of safe bike lanes on many roads in America by creating an eco-friendly bike lane barrier. On average, 98% of yearly American cyclist deaths occur in accidents with motor vehicles. Many Americans feel unsafe biking on busy roads, and often opt to drive cars instead, causing emissions that contribute to climate change. However, traditional concrete road barriers are not the solution because concrete causes greenhouse gas emissions during production accounts for about 10% of global industrial water use, causes air pollution that worsens respiratory illnesses, and contributes to the biodiversity crisis.
What does your design solution do? How does it solve or improve the problem you selected?
Our design solution is a traffic barrier between the main road and bike lane. The barrier protects bikers from vehicles, thus encouraging people to bike rather than relying on greenhouse gas-emitting vehicles. Decreased use of such vehicles lowers greenhouse gas emissions, reducing climate change. The barrier’s layers of hexagonal cells are filled with air and an impact-absorbing polymer to manage impact and compression during vehicle collisions. The barrier also has a moss air purification system that absorbs carbon dioxide and outputs oxygen, further reducing atmospheric greenhouse gas levels.
How was your solution inspired by nature? What organisms did you learn from and how did what you learned inform your design?
Our solution was inspired by bamboo stems, pomelo peels, and honeycombs. Bamboo stems and pomelo peels manage impact through density gradients that are very dense at the exterior and least dense at the core. We employed this strategy by filling many cells near the barrier’s exterior with an impact-absorbing polymer and more cells towards the core with air. Honeycombs inspired our barrier’s interior structure, which consists of compression-managing hexagonal cell layers that prevent the barrier from vehicle collision damage. Our barrier is multifunctional because it includes a moss air filtration system, so it encourages biking and purifies the surrounding air.
Judges Quotes
Judge's Quotes

“The SONA team thought about a design to engage in a behavior that many of us don’t think of as safe. Safety barriers for cycling can help the environment and communities — they really thought about different issues here in a creative, locally inspired way that meets global needs.” 

— Kathy Zarsky, Founder, BiomimicryTX