Changemaker Award -High School

UN Sustainable Development Goals Addressed

  • Goal 13: Climate Action

2021 Youth Design Challenge

This design concept was developed by participants in the Institute’s Youth Design Challenge. The descriptions below are from the team’s competition entry materials.

School: Hereford High School
Location: Parkton, MD, United States
Coach: Michael Dodd-o
Team members: AGeorgia Hammond, Kyle Zibell

Video Pitch

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Innovation Details

The Tidal Twister seeks to address coastline erosion on the Chesapeake Bay by reducing wave turbulence and encouraging the return of oysters and eelgrass. After learning about how the bay is threatened by climate change, this team set out to create a device capable of dissipating increased wave action while also appealing to creatures at different aquatic depths. Inspired by mangroves, spiral horned antelope, and mud dauber wasps, the team proposed a 3D printed cement spiral anchored to the coastal sea bed where it reduces wave energy and creates habitat for beneficial aquatic organisms found at varied depths.


What is the problem addressed for this Challenge and how is it related to climate change?

The Chesapeake Bay, an essential ecosystem and prominent feature of our home state of Maryland, is significantly affected by climate change. Global warming is causing elevated sea levels and increased water temperatures. The Bay is becoming clouded with suspended sediment as shoreline erosion increases with rising water levels. Warmer, sediment-laden waters are smothering critical eelgrass beds; eelgrass feeds native species, provides essential habitat, slows water currents, and increases dissolved oxygen. Oysters, highly efficient water filter feeders, are becoming increasingly scarce. The team primarily addressed the issue of increased wave action and soil erosion caused by rising global temperatures.


What does this design solution do? How does it solve and improve a problem?

The Tidal Twister reduces wave turbulence, preventing excessive coastline erosion, by redirecting the wave downward. A biodegradable eelgrass is attached. Eelgrass has a nursery period when it is particularly vulnerable. The bioplastic eelgrass provides habitat, slows currents, and helps young beds become firmly established before harmlessly dissolving within a few months. Protruding above the water’s surface, the spiral increases dissolved oxygen levels as water splashes against it. The Tidal Twister encourages oyster growth along its rim. Oysters naturally help to reduce effects of soil erosion by filtering water. Initial testing shows wave energy decreased by 20.3%.


How was this solution inspired by nature? What organisms inspired it?

Mangrove trees naturally reduce wave energy. The design functionally mimics mangrove tree roots. The shape of the structure mimics the shape of spiral-horned antelope horns which have incredible strength and distinct layers. Real eelgrass inspired the shape of the synthetic version with the goal of sheltering vulnerable creatures, slowing currents, and providing cover for young eelgrass. In addition, the team incorporated existing technology that mimicked elements of nature. Like tree roots, the FENOX grounding anchors will secure the design. The spiral is made from a 3D printing process similar to nest building strategies exhibited by mud dauber wasps.