Cool Girls: The Hippie Pandas Invent a Life-Saving Tool

Girls are good at writing; boys are good at math and science. Blah, blah, blah... We know the stereotypes. Obviously, we don't have to state that these are false generalizations, but just to add some proof to the pudding let us introduce the Hippie Pandas, a team of four girls ages 11-14 from Rochester, NY who entered the FIRST Championship with a life-saving invention.

Through one of their coach's cousins who serves in the Peace Corps in Nicaragua, the team was learned of the dangers of unpasteurized milk. People there drink raw milk directly from the cow, resulting in diseases and miscarriages in pregnant women. To help prevent this, the Hippie Pandas invented a tool that easily pasteurizes milk with simple parts. A piece of aluminum foil over a woven mat acts as a reflector that creates heat from sunlight; the unpasteurized milk is placed into a receptacle that is painted black to help absorb heat. But now the real ingenious part happens.

For milk to properly pasteurize, it must be heated to 145 degrees to kill all the icky stuff. Knowing that a thermometer may not be readily available, the team created a different way to gage the temperature: by placing a piece of beeswax over the container. When the wax fully melts, the milk has reached 145 degrees and is safe to drink. Dontcha love that?

The Hippie Pandas won 1st place in the Gracious Professionalism category, which honors respect among teammates and others. People in Nicaragua are already using this method to safely drink milk! Kudos to the girls of Hippie Pandas not only for their smarts, but also for having the best team name ever.