Teen genius behind brilliant invention
MACINLEY Butson was only in year 6 when she came up with her first genius idea.
Usually kids don't want to take medicine, but Macinley was different.
She realised when she took cough syrup in a measuring cup there was often some left behind and she wasn't really getting the required dose.
Then came the spoonge - a cross between a syringe and spoon - that delivers just the right amount of medicine.
"This little invention combines the measuring accuracy of a syringe with a spoon that delivers all of the medicine but is incredibly inaccurate," the 17-year-old said.
"The spoonge device is an old one but a good one."
Macinley points out it's an old one because she's invented several other things since.
From a device that keeps garden snails away instead of poison, to a solar power system that filters dirty water to make it usable, the year 12 student comes up with her own research projects as a side hobby.
Perhaps her greatest invention though is a shield that's been shown to protect women from radiation during breast cancer treatment.
The 2018 NSW Young Australian of the Year and Youth Ambassador for this year's Sydney Science Festival came up with the idea during a simple conversation over the family dinner table.
That was two years ago. Now she's set up a business with her brother Ethan while she finishes her studies at Illawarra Grammar School.
The pair have patented the 'Smart Armour' and have Therapeutic Good Association approval to roll the invention out in hospitals which they are in talks with across Australia.
Macinley was lucky enough to do her testing at the Chris O'Brien Lifehouse cancer care centre in Sydney. Her dad also works in radiation therapy, which is how the invention came about.
"It was a conversation over the dinner table," she said.
"We were casually talking about this issue, the breast not being treated for cancer (was) receiving some radiation during treatment. That sparked my interest and I came up with the idea from there, which blocks up to 80 per cent of radiation."
The craziest part is Macinley works on these research projects in her own time, starting from scratch and teaching herself the science behind the idea.
"It's all a long process," she said.
"One of the things people overlook is I usually spend a year on these projects.
"It starts from the very basic stage of research, reading journal articles and informing my own knowledge which starts from nothing."
Macinley found scale maille, a type of medieval armour, was the best option for her shield.
"It was pretty awesome," she said.
"Clinically, most centres don't use any type of shielding and that's what I was trying to solve.
"Oncologists have a very busy job and a lot of the focus has been on treating patients. A study come out that one in 14 women who had radiation therapy developed another primary cancer later in life, so a lot of these concerns we are only becoming aware of now."
Macinley started this project in year 10 and can't wait to see it come to fruition in hospitals if the business takes off.
"It's the project that has the most relevance because cancer is the second leading cause of deaths around the world," she said.
"Everyone is looking at curing cancer but one thing I wanted to do was improve the outcomes for people going through treatment."
She has already travelled to Stockholm with the Australian Water Association for the junior water prize and is in talks with them about getting her solar system implemented in developing countries.
She also recently returned from two months studying at MIT University in Boston.
In 2017 she became the first Australian to win the top medicine prize at the prestigious INTEL International Science and Engineering Fair for her Smart Armour.
"I have a research project each year, it's one of my passions," she said.
"It's something I like to come up with in these projects, is an invention that addresses an issue I've looked at that year.
"It usually just happens by chance and I set out to see what can I do to contribute to this issue."
The Sydney Science Festival ends this weekend.