Five Maharishi School students honored for science fair inventions

Five Maharishi School students honored for science fair inventions

Maharishi School students show the plaques and medals they received at this year’s science fair competitions. The students are, from left, Keshav Sinolia, Poojita Mukadam, Ishita Mukadam, Advisor Asha Sharma, Antariksha Sharma and Joyce Wang. (Andy Hallman/The Union)

FAIRFIELD – Five students from Maharishi School in Fairfield won awards for projects they completed for the Eastern Iowa Science and Engineering Fair.

Two of the students, senior Ishita Mukadam and sophomore Antariksha Sharma, received top honors and will get to present their projects at the International Science and Engineering Fair in Los Angeles next month.

Head of School Richard Beall said these recent accolades for Maharishi School students are the latest in a long history of science fair excellence dating back four decades. He said Ted Wallace was the school’s first state champion in any event when he won the science fair in 1986.

“Ted went on to internationals, and his brother Gareth followed in his footsteps by being a multiple state champion, and placed pretty high in internationals,” Beall said. “What we’re seeing now is that more students are taking an interest in it. It’s nice to have these five students and know that really consequential research is coming out of this school and from these students, which could really have a lasting impact.”

Beall credited Maharishi School teacher and science fair advisor Asha Sharma with playing a critical role in the success of the science fair team. Sharma said that doing a project for science fair is one of the options available for the school’s project period. During the first week of the class, Sharma gets the students to brainstorm ideas that they could turn into a project. She said three of this year’s students in science fair were continuing and improving upon projects they had started a year or two before.

“We talk about what kind of resources they will need, what materials they will need,” Sharma said. “I’m there to make sure we do things on time, and making sure that they are working in the right direction.”

All five students pursued unique projects based on their interests, and all of them hope to turn their ideas into real-world products after high school. The students are:


Joyce Wang looked for a project dealing with the automotive industry, which her father works in. She saw an opportunity to make electric cars more efficient. Just like how braking charges the battery in an electric car, Wang wanted to see if other movements in the car could be used to charge its battery, like through its suspension system.

Wang created a design to show how, through a modified suspension system, it was possible to absorb a car’s bouncy movements and convert them into an electric current fed into the battery. Wang said such a suspension system would increase an electric car’s driving range before it needed to recharge.

At the Eastern Iowa Science and Engineering Fair, Wang was named Regional Finalist, and won the EISEF Class 1 Award with an Exceptional Genius Award and an invitation to the Genius Olympiad International High School Project Fair on Environment. She received the Naval Science Award from the Office of Naval Research.


Antariksha Sharma was looking for a new way to treat illnesses. She contracted typhoid last summer, and got the flu the year before that, so she had to take a lot of antibiotics. But she kept getting sick.

“I wanted to look for an alternative not just for myself but for others who are immuno-compromised or may not have access to antibiotics,” she said.

Sharma got the idea to experiment with natural remedies to treat infections, and discovered the combination of garlic and honey was effective at killing bacteria. She found that pills containing raw garlic and manuka honey could be just as effective at killing bacteria as a synthetic anti-bacterial agent, and that they could be mass produced for a low cost at just 5 cents per pill.

Sharma conducted experiments at Jefferson County Health Center under the supervision of lab manager Jim Schwarz, and conducted three trials at Iowa State University’s microbiology lab in Ames.

“The lab technicians at the hospital were really optimistic with the lab results they were seeing,” Sharma said.

Sharma said this would be a major breakthrough in the industry because bacteria become resistant to anti-bacterial medicines over time, so giving people a new method to treat their sickness “would mean the world to them.”


Poojita Mukadam wanted to help the estimated 300 million people in the world with some form of colorblindness. Not knowing an object’s color can be a serious problem such as distinguishing between red and green traffic lights.

Mukadam wrote a computer program in the Python programming language where she trained a camera to recognize colors it was seeing and report them. Mukadam said her invention could be used in cars, where the computer could indicate verbally through a speaker that a light was red, yellow or green.

Mukadam said her invention isn’t just useful for people who are colorblind, but could be used by people who are completely blind, who want to know the color of an object, such as the clothes they’re wearing.

Mukadam won the Systems Engineering Meritorious Achievement Award in Systems Engineering and EISEF Senior Physical Science Honorable Mention Medal.


Ishita Mukadam has been interested in the medicinal benefits of turmeric for several years. Two years ago, Mukadam created a “turmeric bandage” where turmeric could be inserted into a wound to help it heal. This year, she wanted to take her research a step further my improving on her turmeric bandage. Specifically, she wanted to see if she could create a bandage that would indicate whether a wound was infected.

Mukadam discovered through her trials that the presence of an infection has different pH measurement, which is how acidic or alkaline a substance is. She also found that she could make a substance that would change color based on its pH value. Mukadam was able to create a bandage that changes from yellow to red when pressed against an infected wound.

Mukadam said she hopes to develop this product further, and believes it is both environmentally friendly and materially cost-effective.


Keshav Sinolia wanted to find a way to make rockets more efficient. He discovered that one way to do that is to give them movable fins. He said that giving rockets movable fins saves fuel and allows their flight control systems to be cheaper.

Sinolia tested his idea on both model rockets and through computer simulations. He said he’s hopeful he can incorporate his invention on larger rockets in the future.

Sinolia won the Certificate of Achievement in Outstanding Science and Engineering from the United States Air Force and the Award for Outstanding Achievement displaying the use of radio or radio electronics by Cedar Valley Amateur Radio and Collins Amateur Radio Club.

Maharishi School senior Ishita Mukadam (left) and sophomore Antariksha Sharma hold the trophies and plaques they won at the Eastern Iowa Science and Engineering Fair. Mukadam and Sharma received top honors, which earned them spots at the International Science and Engineering Fair in Los Angeles in May. (Andy Hallman/The Union)

Antariksha Sharma stands next to her display booth summarizing her research into using garlic and manuka honey to control bacterial infections. (Photo submitted)

Call Andy Hallman at 641-575-0135 or email him at

Antariksha Sharma (left) and Ishita Mukadam are shown competing at the Eastern Iowa Science and Engineering Fair. (Photo submitted)

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