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Inventor crowned Junior Engineer of the Year

March 18th, 2016
Lisa and Marty Jopson, resident scientist on BBC One’s The One Show

A clever schoolgirl has won a national engineering competition after wowing judges with her eco-friendly invention.

Lisa invented Xorbit, a car dehumidifier with a difference, to enter into an annual science, technology, engineering and maths contest at Haberdashers’ Monmouth School for Girls last year.

And yesterday, the 14-year-old beat around 200 finalists from across the UK to become Junior Engineer of the Year at the Big Bang Fair, hosted at Birmingham’s NEC.

It is the second year running that girls from HMSG have won the STEM exhibition’s coveted title, along with the £1,000 cash prize.

Lisa won the British Science Association CREST prize for Innovation at the regional heat of Big Bang and following judges’ advice, she made changes to improve Xorbit – which also functions as an air freshener and fits neatly into car cup-holders – in time for the finals.

She said: “Everything about Xorbit is now compostable. The silica gel (which enables Xorbit to dehumidify the car) was already eco-friendly, but the cup was made out of plastic.

“Now it’s made out of PLA, a bioplastic, and the fragrance comes from a scented piece of wood, so the whole thing is completely compostable.

“I think this sets it apart even more from what’s already available.”

As well as manning her Xorbit stand for two days during the fair, Lisa spoke to countless members of the public about the invention and even got to meet one of her idols.

Lisa with Marty Jopson, resident scientist on BBC One’s The One ShowMarty Jopson, resident scientist on BBC One’s The One Show, stopped to chat to the budding engineer on his way to presenting a show about everyday life science.

He said: “It’s a brilliant idea – really fabulous.

“Lisa seemed like she had worked it all through in a wonderfully thorough way.

“From my perspective, it’s always nice to see people learning manufacturing skills.

“Lisa learnt how to use a lathe for turning wood to make the air freshener, which is really impressive.

“She’s lovely and full of energy.”

Lisa has been a fan of Marty’s for years, and was thrilled she got the opportunity to tell him about Xorbit.

“Marty was asking about the product,” she said.

“He was especially interested in it because he had written an article on how cars mist up.

“It was really exciting as he understood the concept. I really enjoyed watching him when I was younger so it was really great to meet him.

“The whole thing has been so exciting, the fair is massive – it’s amazing how busy it gets.

Lisa is interviewed by HMSGTV at the Big Bang Fair at Birmingham

“Throughout the week I’ve become more confident, the positive feedback encourages me to carry on.

“The judges were really impressed by the product and their advice was to keep going.

“It has motivated me even more and inspired me to go further with Xorbit.

“It’s more of a reality now that I could see it on the shelves eventually.”

Anne Kavanagh, Head of Physics at HMSG, said: “When the winners were announced there was a big stage with music, great big screens and laser light – real razzmatazz.

“It was all quite emotional!

“Lisa realised just what she’d achieved, she had put so much work into it.

“She’s done everything herself. She listened to tips and advice from judges at the regional competition and acted on everything.

“She so fully deserved to win. She’s a brilliant role model.

“Lots of people thought she was in the senior category – the quality of her work really is beyond her years.

“It’s brilliant for HMSG because we’ve won the title for the second year running.

“Who says lightning doesn’t strike twice?”

Click here for more information on the Big Bang Fair.

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