Students showcase innovative inventions, from toothpaste to edible QR codes, at STEM festival

By Joshua Bay | April 30, 2024

Indiana high school student Joshua Kim experienced the consequences of counterfeit medicine firsthand.

Kim, a student in the senior class at West Lafayette High School, learned that his dog, Joy, contracted heartworm disease and purchased medication from an online pharmacy.

The medication Kim bought not only proved ineffective but also worsened Joy’s condition further.

Inspired by his dog’s health scare, Kim developed a method for individuals to authenticate pharmaceutical products by imprinting an edible QR code directly onto the medication.

Indiana high school student Joshua Kim working on his STEM project in his school’s lab.

Kim was part of the 150 student innovators from middle and high schools who showcased their inventions and research projects tackling global challenges at the National STEM Festival held in Washington, DC.

“Numerous tragedies and fatalities have resulted from substandard, counterfeit, or diverted pharmaceuticals,” Kim shared with The 74. “Therefore, I am pleased to have had the chance to raise awareness regarding counterfeit drugs.”

Organized by EXPLR and the U.S. Department of Education, the student innovators were chosen from various national contests, including the National STEM Challenge, where over 2,500 students submitted projects across six distinct categories: Environmental Stewardship, Future Foods, Health & Medicine, Powering the Planet, Tech for Good, and Space Innovation.

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