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Meet local Girl Scouts whose sustainability project brought them to meet President Obama

Reagan Mattison, Christina Yepez, Julianna Jones, Sindhu Bala and Sydney Gralike, stand with their project at the White House Science Fair.
Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri
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Reagan Mattison, Christina Yepez, Julianna Jones, Sindhu Bala and Sydney Gralike, stand with their project at the White House Science Fair.

Prickly-tongue. Sweaty palms. Stomach butterflies. Shaking. Anxiety. Relief.  These are some of the feelings and symptoms that Sindhu Bala and Christina Yepez, two members of local Girl Scout Troop 1484, remember about their meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House in April. They were presenting their own groundbreaking research and sustainability/robotics project, which turns Styrofoam into a recyclable glue.

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Credit Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio
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Christina Yepez and Sindhu Bala, of The Blockheads.

“What I think about it, when I think back to that time, is the anxiousness of seeing him,” said Christina. “And just the relief afterwards like, we got through it, I’m still alive and all that.”

Christina said it was easier to calm down when she realized “he acted like a normal guy” and that he didn’t act above anyone else. “He was just someone there who was asking questions about our project,” she said.”

“For the picture, I was standing on his left side,” said Sindhu. “He put his hand on my right shoulder. Now, I have a magic shoulder.”

"[The president] put his hand on my right shoulder. Now, I have a magic shoulder."

These two whip-smart young ladies, just 13 years old, were part of a six-person team, The Blockheads, that combined research, robotics and sustainability in order to solve the problem a local nursing home set before them: the fact that the nursing home was disposing of 20,000 non-recyclable Styrofoam cups per week. Michelle Yepez, The Blockheads Team Coach for Girl Scout Troop 1484, supervised the troop  but says the girls were responsible for the glue innovation themselves.

The team worked on the research from the beginning of summer 2015 and they went to a championship to compete with their research in December. In March, the girls got a call that they were invited to the White House to present their project at the White House Science Fair.

Now, the troop is looking to patent not one but two innovations that came out of the project.

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Credit Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio
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Michelle and Christina Yepez and Sindhu Bala, of The Blockheads.

“We are hoping to acquire patents and then sell it to companies that could feasibly make a business out of them,” said Sindhu.

Listen to the girls’ story about the project, what it was like to visit the White House and more here:

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary Edwards, Alex Heuer and Kelly Moffitt give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region. 

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Kelly Moffitt joined St. Louis Public Radio in 2015 as an online producer for St. Louis Public Radio's talk shows St. Louis on the Air.

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