Fort Lauderdale Boy, 11, Invents “Sandless Sandbags” For Natural Disasters

Peyton Robertson calls his award-winning design SOS -- Sandless Operational Sandbag.

A Fort Lauderdale sixth grader was recently named America's Top Young Scientist for inventing a sandbag design that can help many South Floridians and others across the world during floods.

Peyton Robertson, 11, calls his invention SOS -- Sandless Operational Sandbag.

"I replaced the sand with polymer and salt," Robertson said. "I also tied a novel interlocking fastener system to hold my bags together as the polymer expands and eliminate gaps between the individual gaps between which water might flow."

Robertson won first place for his innovative sandbag design in the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge. His bag is lightweight, reusable and, since the bag doesn't inflate until it touches water, there are less gaps between each bag, adding increased flood protection.

"It would be beneficial pretty much everywhere," Robertson said. "My sandbags are designed to work against any kinds of flooding, whether it's laying water or salt water."

He says Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Wilma inspired him to create the bags.

"When I was 4-years-old, I experienced Wilma, and it was definitely a terrifying experience, all the sounds and noises around me," he said.

The sandless sandbag isn't Robertson's only invention. At age 8, he invented a golf ball temperature preserver, then two years later, he invented retractable training wheels to help his sisters learn to ride a bike.

"I've always enjoyed science and math and learning about how things work and making them work better," he said.

Robertson has applied for a provisional patent for his award-winning design and next he hopes to test it during a real hurricane.

"I'm probably the only person that looks forward to a hurricane so I can test it," he said.

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