Drought Sensors: Rajvi R. Uses Engineering to Help Farmers Conserve Water
For her Gold Award, Rajvi, 18, from Girl Scouts of Northern California, developed soil moisture sensors and readers to help farmers conserve water and use less groundwater. The sensors are planted into the soil; they allow farmers to read and determine the moisture level in the soil. Based on Rajvi's technology, farmers on average saved 25 percent of their monthly water use and were able to better sustain their businesses during the California drought.
She has since received a provisional patent on her product and is now working to make it accessible for all. Her project is available on Facebook and YouTube as a video log to show people how the technology works and how they can replicate it globally in areas affected by drought. She has also made it cost effective so that farmers in rural or underserved communities can benefit from it. Ravji even got the opportunity to share her project at Oracle Openworld, one of the leading technology conferences in the world. She’s unstoppable!
This G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)™ is a true change-maker. Here’s what she had to say about her Gold Award project, and what Girl Scouting means to her!
Q: What does your Gold Award mean to you? Why did you pick this topic?
A: My family and I have this tradition. We go to the farmers’ market together every Saturday and Sunday. I really like visiting the farmers’ markets and engaging with the farmers. So for one of my previous Journeys, leading up to the Gold Award, we had to communicate with farmers and learn about where the food comes from. While interviewing them I learned that they were really struggling with growing crops and with their whole cycle, especially with the mega drought. So right then, I knew exactly what I wanted to work on, because I’ve been so passionate about the farmer community. I’ve also been very tech savvy. I’ve been doing engineering internships for all three summers of high school. I knew that I wanted to combine my passion for engineering and the environment, so I combined those two and developed my soil moisture sensor.
Earning my Gold Award has definitely changed everything. I definitely knew I wanted to do something in engineering, but I didn’t know what, and after my project I will be majoring in environmental engineering in college.
If I’ve been able to complete a Gold Award, I feel like I can basically achieve anything.
Q: What is the biggest obstacle you faced in completing your Gold Award project?
A: I think my biggest challenge was getting farmers to adapt to my technology or come and use my technology, because they have many old methods of irrigating and farming, and they’re not too open to trying something new. But I did find some really great people, and they were the kindest, friendliest people, and when they found out I was doing my Gold Award, they were so willing to help. It was really amazing.
Q: Where are you now, and what are your plans for the future?
A: This year, I’ll be heading to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo) in California, and I’ll be studying environmental engineering.
Q: What does Girl Scouts mean to you?
A: I definitely think that Girl Scouts has made me more of an open person, trying to help people out. We’ve done multiple projects over the years, where we try to reach out to the community, and help individuals, put them first, talk to them and try to understand what their issue is and how we can make an impact.
I’m really grateful that Girl Scouts gives you such a great platform and such great connections that you can work with to make whatever you want happen, happen. I think Girl Scouts means community.
Q: Which part of G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker. Leader)™ do you most identify with?
A: I’m more of a go-getter, and I think that my Gold Award has brought that out in me. There are many instances where opportunities don’t come to you, you have to go and get them. Especially with getting the farmers to use my technology. There were many times where I would have to go to the farms, go to the farmers and explain my project to them, and I got declined many times. But even though you get rejected or there’s a challenge, you have to continue, you have to persevere, and Girl Scouts has definitely taught me that.