Sriram - Observe, Question, Think

What was my process of making observations and picking a problem?

Have you ever wondered whether it’s possible to make painless flu shots so kids wouldn’t be scared to go to the doctor? Or why water evaporates even when the temperature doesn’t reach 100oC outside? Or why a gel forms around chia seeds when you put them in water?

My grandfather has a mantra: “Observe. Question. Think.”

I observed a huge problem in my community. When I was at Starbucks, I questioned where all the straws go once used. After doing some research, I learned that an appalling 95% of straws end up in the ocean and probably get consumed by marine animals. I thought of reusable straws made of steel, glass, paper, and even bamboo as solutions.

When I started professional archery, I observed that many people received the same corrections every week. I questioned why this was. I realized they couldn’t practice efficiently because they didn’t receive corrections during practice and thought of making an Archery Assistant as a solution.

How hard was it for me to narrow down my list to top three?

One amazing discovery I made when seeking inspiration is that literally anywhere I looked, I saw ways in which I could help. To narrow down the list I focused on picking the issues that I am most passionate about, which gave me the most ideas of possible solutions, and which I felt were more practical for me to solve now.

What motivates 3M scientists and me to solve problems?

The thought that they are helping so many people and improving so many lives motivates 3M scientists to solve problems. I thought of a band-aid. I remembered how I used to painfully pull it off, sometimes making the new scar bigger than the original, and the dirty impressions it made. I casually searched the web for a 3M band-aid and woohoo! the first thing I found was “3M Nexcare™ Sensitive Skin Bandages.”

  • Pain-free removal
  • Long-term adhesion yet clean removal
  • Minimal hair pulling

The scientists got to it by following the scientist mantra. They "observed" the problem with existing band-aids. They "questioned" how it works and what might be causing its behavior. They "thought" of a better solution! Helping people and making a difference motivates scientists.

When I learned what an inclusive sport archery is and how visually impaired people, deaf people, autistic people, and veterans suffering with severe injuries and PTD (post traumatic depression) can all benefit from archery, and how it improves students’ focus in their academics too, I felt really motivated to make my tool. I felt inspired to solve the problem of proximity and cost limitations during practice when I found out that my project would help such a wide variety of people. I was all set to make a difference!