Fresno Siblings win California Stockholm Junior Water Prize

Updated: June 22

Brother and Sister John Benedict and Pauline Victoria were chosen by the national judging panel to represent the USA at the international Stockholm Junior Water Prize in Stockholm in August, 2022, for their project, “Conservation of Irrigation Water Through a Novel AI Drought Assessment (AIDA) Model in Field Grown Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) Using a Custom-Built ‘Spectra-Rover.'” This is the second year CWEA has sponsored the USA winner to compete internationally.

The Stockholm Junior Water Prize (SJWP) is considered the world’s most prestigious award presented to a high school student for a water-research project. The Water Environment Federation (WEF) has coordinated the U.S. competition since its inception in 1997, and partners closely with their Member Association (MA) to execute the program. This competition is a great example of how science and innovation can impact water and water quality.

We’re excited to see California winners and siblings, John Benedict Estrada & Pauline Victoria competing! They won the California competition in April with their project, “Conservation of Irrigation Water through a Novel AI Drought Assessment (AIDA) Model in Field Grown Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) Using a Custom-Built “Spectra-Rover.”

Development of an early detection tool to assess drought stress in plants is crucial in reducing irrigation water used to grow agricultural crops. The AIDA model was developed using field data and variables that are physiologic and direct indicators of drought stress. A custom-built Spectra-Rover was constructed with infrared (IR) and RGB cameras to capture radiometric IR and RGB plant canopy images. Radiometric IR temperature, red, green, and blue light reflectance values, and soil moisture readings were used to train the AIDA model. Eighty percent (80%) of the data was used in the training dataset and the remaining 20% was used in the validation dataset. The AIDA model validation output was very close to the actual CWSI values with a low mean absolute error. A prediction output program was coded and appended to the AIDA model to output an AIDA score. This accurately approximated the manually calculated CWSI values. If this novel AIDA model with an AIDA score is used on all tomato farms in California, approximately 26 billion gallons of irrigation water can potentially be saved each season.

View full paper here.

John Estrada is a junior at Clovis North High School in Fresno, California. He began participating in science fair competitions when he was in fourth grade. His elementary and middle school research topics range from analyzing the effects of the visible light spectrum on crops to using a remote sensing unmanned aerial vehicle to collect multispectral data for the calculation of vegetation indices. His high school research involves the use of AI in the development of drought assessment tool to accurately predict the earliest sign of drought stress in plants. John’s project was recognized as one of the top awardees at the Regeneron ISEF 2021 competition, garnering first place in the Plant Science category, as well as the prestigious Gordon E. Moore Award for Positive Outcomes for Future Generations. The AIDA model also won first place in the Plant Science category at the 2021 California Science and Engineering Fair.

Pauline Estrada is a freshman at Clovis North High School in Fresno, California. She has been participating in science fair competitions since fourth grade. Her research in both elementary and middle school were focused on using custom camera systems interfaced to a remotely operated vehicle or rover that she constructed to detect drought stress in plants. Pauline’s sixth and seventh grade projects were selected as one of the top 30 finalists at the 2019 and 2020 Broadcom MASTERS competitions. She ultimately won the second place Technology award at the Broadcom MASTERS 2020 competition.

CWEA also wishes to congratulate 2nd and 3rd place winners, Alexandre Beaudin “Energy Efficient Water Desalination: Low Differential Pressure Mechanical Vapor Recompression with Concurrent Heat Transfer” and Christopher & Nicholas Kwok “Eukaryotic Algicide: Environmental Remediation of Harmful Algal Blooms via Microencapsulation for Bioactivation of Programmed Cell Death.” The future of clean water relies on future water leaders like Alexandre, Christopher, Nicholas, John and Pauline. Congratulations to all winners!

Thank you Harris & Associates for sponsoring the California Stockholm Junior Water Prize.
For more information on the Stockholm Junior Water Prize visit