High School Students Ready To Solve One of Society’s Biggest Problems

The Lempert Report
July 14, 2017

The Smart Straw can test alcoholic drinks for the presence of date rape drugs.

Food & Wine reports that Susana Cappello, Carolina Baigorri and Victoria Roca, students at Gulliver Preparatory High School in Miami, won the Miami Herald’s Business Plan Challenge with their invention: It’s called the Smart Straw, and it can test alcoholic drinks for the presence of GBH and ketamine, the two most common so-called date rape drugs. It works in both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, and turns blue when it hits the liquid if the substances are present. 


As part of their project, the young women conducted a survey at Northwestern University to get a feel for how popular such a product would be. Half of respondents said they knew someone who had been drugged at a party and 85% said they would use the straw. 

The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation conducted a survey of 1,053 current and recent college students from January to March of 2015 and asked respondents about their experiences with sexual assault. Fourteen percent of women and 4 percent of men reported that they had been sexually assaulted while incapacitated by drugs or alcohol, or while asleep. This was the most common kind of assault experienced by both sexes. 

And its not just a hypothesis – these three are working with a testing kit manufacturer about producing the straw (which they want to be recyclable) according to Refinery29, and will hold a kickstarter campaign to fund the project. 

“We were really passionate about this so we kept on pursuing it,” said Susana.

Susanna and her fellow inventors had to test their business presentation several times before it was good to enough to win the prestigious competition, but they never gave up. Their determination earned them the nickname “the straw ladies.” 

An important invention which underscores that there is a new generation of thinkers and doers – and their approaches to life-hacking needs to be nurtured, encouraged and supported financially.