You can always tell when a teacher is passionate about the subject that he or she is teaching.
When speaking to Rojak Daily
recently, 28-year-old teacher K Thipanraj could not stop gushing about science, his team of innovative students and a cool glove that he created with them using banana leaf fibres.
The gloves are officially called 'Sustainable And Plantable Antibacterial Banana Leaf Herbal Organic Glove
Thipanraj and his team of 14-year-old students - Kirshavina Kumar, Shabariraj Rajendran, Rubinya Nair Suresh, Yuvan Thinagaran, and Yuvhasinee Thinagaran - won the gold medal at a Turkey-based innovation competition recently because of their cool invention.
The team from Sinaran Intensif private tuition (PTSI) centre in Johor Bahru, defeated 180 other participants from 21 countries at the International Science Project Competition 2021 held online.
A surprising win
"I was in class when they announced us as winners," Thinpanraj told us.
"My students were so excited and they kept calling me on my phone. When I finally answered, they told me that our names were anounced and that we had won gold."
Thipanraj said that the team took about a month to put together the proposal for the banana glove.
"I first came up with the idea but we worked on it together as a team.
"I was inspired by innovations from different countries when putting together our project. In the Phillipines, they use banana leaves to make clothes and in India, they're used for cups and straws.
"We have plenty of banana leaves here and gloves are something that we use more frequently now due to the pandemic so I thought - why not gloves made from banana leaves," he said.
To make the gloves, banana leaves were gathered, boiled with turmeric powder, cinnamon, garlic, ginger, honey, coconut oil and neem so that it's antibacterial and less harmful to the skin.
Additionally, the team also embedded seeds within the gloves, and when disposed of, the gloves will disintegrate, and the seeds grow into a plant.
"We were really excited to work on this project and winning the competition was something that none of us expected.
"Because of the pandemic, the discussions were mostly done online, and my students worked hard to help me despite having their usual online classes to deal with as well. They also put together the powerpoint video presentation for the project.
"This is also the first time that we're competing as a team and the first time that we've ever competed internationally," he said, adding that he was proud of his students.
The team were sponsored by S.Kumaran, the founder and principle of the PTSI.
Thipanraj also conveyed his thanks to R Vinod for the video animation and photography, and K Logeswaran and team.
Working with banana fibres
When asked about the most challenging aspect when coming up with the gloves, Thipanraj said that it was the sewing of the fibres themselves.
"It is really hard because banana fibres tend to break quite easily.
"My family helped too. My Mum collected as banana leaves for me to experiment with and my sister took the photos," he said.
Thipanraj said that many already expressed interest in the prototype but said that the team was still open to having discussions with interested parties on how to mass produce it.
"Next we'll be competing at the World Science, Environment and Engineering Competition (WSWWC) in Indonesia which will be held online," he said.
We wish Thipanraj and his students all the best! Well done, you guys!