Santiago Hills student enters national STEM competition with her solution to food waste

Rhea Sreedhar

During the Irvine Unified School District’s annual Science Fair, held earlier this year, Santiago Hills Elementary student Rhea Sreedhar was honored with the 2022 Broadcom Coding with Commitment Award for her SmartM Detector, which will be showcased during the Broadcom MASTERS competition this September.  

Using a Raspberry Pi - a miniature computer - the SmartM Detector is designed to detect rising methane levels in food, signaling when food has spoiled.  Rhea’s invention can help reduce food waste along with fuel emissions, which is a significant contributor to global warming.

rhea sreedhar
SmartM Detector

She was inspired to create the SmartM Detector when her family, like many others, sheltered in place during the pandemic. The Sreedhar family stocked up on food to limit their interactions with others. Rhea’s mother wished there was some kind of alarm to signal when the food was approaching its last few days of shelf life. During this time, Rhea also noticed how much waste was being dumped into a landfill a few miles from her home – she was determined to find a solution. 

“I want to be a problem solver – using computing and my love for science to keep innovating and creating new products and solutions,” Rhea shared. She is proud to “build something usable with both software and hardware that can help families around the world.”

Visit IUSD’s Math and Science pages for more information on our District’s programs.