For most students, when the bell rings, signaling the beginning of lunch, that means it’s time for a much needed break in the school day. Students leisurely walk from classrooms to the cafeteria, eating lunch and socializing with friends. The lines to buy food stretch throughout campus, and the quad becomes a hub for groups of friends to meet. With no classes or work to worry about, lunch is a time to rest before the next few classes or after school activities.
However, for senior Megha Jain, this 33 minute period is often spent quickly travelling through campus, meeting with students and teachers about Science Fair, the organization she founded.
Jain describes Science Fair as a “mentorship network for students.” This involves meeting professionals already in STEM careers that students may be interested in, in addition to talking with people who can help them research.
But Science Fair is only one of Jain’s notable accomplishments. For the past four years, she has been working on a device that helps save water in toilets by converting them to dual-flush mode toilets, which have two different sides. One side uses less water and the other uses more. The user can decide which side to use based on how much water they need in a flush. Her invention is called Swchit, and has both provisional and non-provisional patents.
“This device costs less than one-fifth of what a normal dual mode toilet will cost. You don’t have to rip out your old toilet tank or throw it away. You just have to place it in your old one, and it works with the flip of a switch,” Jain explained.
Jain wanted to create an affordable and accessible device so that any person could use less water, regardless of ability to pay for pricey new toilets that conserve water.
“I started thinking of ways to make toilet tanks more efficient, and making it so that anyone could conserve water, and money wasn’t an issue,” Jain stated.
Jain first had the idea for her invention as a project for a Science Fair in eighth grade. Using the information she found through research, what she learned in school, her own observations, and experimenting with possible solutions in her own toilet tank, Jain eventually discovered how she could make Swchit function.
“I remember taking balls and bricks and putting them in my toilet tank and thinking ‘ok, how is this going to displace water?’ I started thinking of having a pulley system. And then in eight grade we were learning about suction. Then, I realized that that was the perfect way to hold up part of the water in the toilet tank,” Jain explained.
Jain’s idea also came after seeing the harmful effects of droughts, and how they have changed the world around her. Some of the things she noticed include drier hills and more areas affected by fire.
“I think the turning point for me was on an annual road trip to San Francisco. In 2015 on the trip, I was looking out the window and I remember seeing everything really, really burnt. It hit me in that moment how horrible the drought had gotten,” Jain said.
Droughts are major problems for many parts of the world, especially Southern California. Saving water has become a goal for many, and is an encouraged habit. Inventions like Jain’s help solve these problems, and are essential to the preservation of our environment.
Swchit took large amounts of time and energy to develop, and Jain found the time for it, despite her busy high school schedule. In addition to Science Fair and inventing water-saving devices, Jain is also a member of the speech team, and works as a math tutor.
“It definitely adds up. But, someone once told me if you really, really care about something, then you make time for it, no matter what,” Jain said.
Jain attributes her success with Swchit and her interest in science to her curiosity. From always wondering about things in the world, to asking questions whenever possible, Jain has shown her curiosity from a young age.
“I always wanted to go and touch everything, and explore everything, and take things apart, and build things. I feel like that really helped me discover the world,” Jain said.
From helping fellow students interested in STEM, to creating devices that solve environmental issues, and being a member of multiple other extracurriculars, Jain is busy much of the time. However, she is busy with things that she enjoys, and many of her endeavors are truly making a difference for both the students and the world around her.