When thinking of ideas for her Google Science Fair project Kiara Nirghin, from Johannesburg, South Africa, looked around and wondered where she could best apply her natural scientific curiosity for the greatest good. She credits her father for her this humanitarian pursuit, saying he continually reminds her of what is truly important. "You can get as many A's in school and university but what matters most is what you do for the [person who] cannot do for themselves."
South Africa, as well as many others around the globe, is in the midst of a terrible drought, leading to food insecurity and further environmental degradation as poor farmers resort to dangerous practices to survive. Kiara, who loves studying physics and chemistry, had learned a bit about superabsorbent polymers (SAPs) in her chemistry class and wondered if they might hold the key to improving water retention in soil.