Victoria Roca, Susana Cappello, and Carolina Baigorri immediately bonded in their entrepreneurship class. For one thing, they were the only females in the class at Gulliver Preparatory School in Miami, reports USA Today, so when asked to create a product and business plan, they teamed up to address an issue affecting women. Noting that one in every five women is a victim of sexual assault, the high school students developed a discreet plastic straw that could test for colorless, odorless, and tasteless substances used for "drug-facilitated sexual assault." It's "brilliant," according to a judge at the Miami Herald's Business Plan Challenge, where the straw beat out ideas from more than 200 other high school applicants to take the top prize. "We were really passionate about this so we kept on pursuing it," says Cappello.
The students initially thought to create a jewelry pendant that could be dipped in a drink, but changed courses after noticing all three were drinking with straws; classmates refer to them as "the straw ladies," says Cappello. Their final product is the patent-pending Smart Straw, with chemical test strips at one end that turn blue when they come into contact with common date rape drugs like roofies, ketamine, and GHB, reports Forbes. The students, who plan to fund their invention through Kickstarter, hope to see the straws become widely used. In a survey they conducted at Northwestern University, half of respondents said they knew someone who'd been drugged and 85% said they'd use the straw, per the Herald. The main goal is "to make people feel safe," Roca tells KRON4. (These women reportedly stopped a date rape.)