November 16, 2021 | Lauren Young
In 2018, Ryan Honary watched one of the deadliest wildfires in California history, the Camp Fire, devastate his home state. The experience inspired the eighth-grader from Newport Beach to invent a system that can help detect wildfires early—before the blazes grow out of control.
Ryan decided to create a system of low-cost, solar-powered sensors, which could be placed in locations with a high risk for wildfires. If the instruments sense heat, smoke, or flames, they are programmed to send a signal to mini meteorological stations. The stations can then send an alert to an app on a phone or other device, notifying people that their communities may be in danger.
These stations can also use the information they collect to create a computer-generated model that predicts where the fire might spread. Ryan says this could help firefighters decide where they need to act first to better contain the fire and protect the people in its path.