Clovis North student wins $50k for his model that measures drought stress in plants

A 16-year-old Fresno boy was awarded $50,000 for creating a new scientific model that helps predict drought stress in plants.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A sophomore at Clovis North is celebrating after he was awarded $50,000 for his year-long science experiment.

The 16-year-old straight-A student enjoys creating science experiments when he's not too busy studying for one of his advanced classes at Clovis North.

His latest scientific model helped earn him the prestigious Gordon E. Moore award and a $50,000 scholarship while helping prevent potential crop loss by predicting drought stress in plants.

The sophomore proved to be better than good after beating out thousands of other students during the International Science and Engineering Fair.

Estrada built a custom robotic camera to capture infrared and visible light that reflects off plant leaves.

The teen mounted a sensor and small camera onto the robotic arm allowing him to measure leaf color, plant temperatures, and soil moisture.

He discovered that his model was faster, more reliable, and can be used by farmers directly instead of the current water stress standard.

"One of our biggest problems is drought in California so I wanted to do something that would help solve that problem that's so impactful to my community," Estrada says.

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Estrada hopes his model will someday help farmers conserve water while boosting their crop yield.

"I'm definitely thinking of continuing this project in the future and improving it and doing it in the actual field instead of a controlled environment," he says.

Still a sophomore, Estrada is deciding on which college to attend with aspirations to major in computer science with a minor in plant sciences.

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