old washing machine partsCutting-edge innovation makes the world go ’round while helping to advance our society, with many of our greatest leaps forward the direct result of inspired ideas hatched up by none other than the younger generation. Yes, high school students! If you are even the slightest bit skeptical about the accuracy of that statement, the bright-eyed participants of the annual Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) will surely dazzle and amaze you with their sheer feats of cerebral strength (which just may make you a believer after all). At this preeminent global scientific showcase, the best and brightest youth share their clever, forward-thinking and sustainable solutions to our ongoing scientific conundrums. Of the more than 7 million students who participate in the competition, a mere 1,500 of them move on to the finalist stage, where they vie for scholarships and awards worth roughly $4 million. Given the weighty nature of what’s at stake, it’s no surprise that they pour their hearts and souls into their unique competition ideas, but there are others who prefer walking to the beat of their own drum by dabbling in bread making. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but we’re talking about a serious scientific gathering. Bread may be the staff of life, but the fine art of coaxing yeast to work its magic on sugar and flour doesn’t exactly rank up there with Einstein’s theory of relativity. Wait a minute… maybe it does. Three young men from Cuiabá, Brazil, who participated in the 2008 ISEF were among the select few finalists who demonstrated that not everything must be about mathematical formulas and theorems to qualify as a viable scientific contribution. Unlike those of us who are blessed to live in highly developed and economically advanced societies, Pitter Wesley dos Santos Oliveira, Gleberson Sena Souza and Cleiton Silva Soares were acutely aware of the persistent issue of hunger and inadequate nutrition in their country. They set about the task of creating a homespun bread maker using readily accessible (and in many cases, free) parts plucked from old washing machines in the hope of helping families to create a better sense of food security. They submitted questionnaires to people in the region so they could accurately ascertain what their average bread expense was (among many other helpful factoids) and found that creating a machine that could be easily repaired by anyone at minimal expense would be the ideal coup. While they handcrafted the base of their bread-making machine themselves, the remaining parts were entirely culled from various brands of old washing machines, including the drum, motor and agitator. Once assembled, their prototype mixed basic bread ingredients in a relatively tidy time frame of five to seven minutes at a monthly savings of 52% per family, meaning that the original cost of $30.45/month for premade bread was slashed to a much more manageable $14.70/month thanks to the DIY element. In true community spirit, the young men toted their inspired creation around to various households in the Jardim Vitória neighborhood so that everyone could benefit, resulting in fuller bellies and a greater sense of empowerment. Thanks to their involvement in the ISEF, their recycled washing machine bread maker is now not just a pipe dream, but a real-world tool for nutritional security in Cuiabá. Furthermore, the creation is taking the heat off of local landfills by making the most of old washing machine parts that not too long ago would have been shrugged off as nothing more than junk. Way to go, guys. Your grand green invention is just as socioeconomically beneficial as it is downright clever. That bread must taste especially scrumptious!