Local Student Inventor Of Bulletproof Backpack Becomes Finalist In World’s Largest High School Science Fair
Courtesy of Ava Cotroneo

LEONARDTOWN, Md. – On May 21st, the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair will be held in Dallas, Texas. It is the largest high school science fair in the world and will feature almost 2,000 students from 60 different countries, sharing projects concerned with addressing climate change, AI, clean energy resources, and a variety of other subjects. 

One such student, Ava Cotroneo, 16, from Saint Mary’s County, Maryland, had a particularly innovative invention that addressed a problem that America has struggled with for over a decade, gun violence. 

Cotroneo developed a special bulletproof backpack insert, dubbed “armadillo skin”, designed to protect young elementary children and adults alike. 

“I can’t vote, but I can engineer.” Cotroneo said.

This remarkable creation is a three-pound plate made up of layers of Kevlar (donated by her local naval base), steel, and bathroom ceramics. The plate is able to withstand the impact of a 9mm handgun round as well as a .223-caliber AR-15 round. 

According to Cotroneo, the bathroom ceramics are the most important material used. “It absorbs kinetic energy on impact and shatters. When compared to things like military-grade Kevlar, there is almost no kickback to the plate.” 

As a Saint Mary’s County local, Cotroneo lives in the same region where, in 2018, a 16-year-old girl was gunned down in the hallway of Great Mills High School. Cotroneo’s mother also works as a first grade teacher. The young girl hopes that her invention and research can help save lives and prevent more similar tragedies in the future. 

Contact our news desk at news@thebaynet.com 

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  1. It’s such a sad strate that such a thing needs to be invented in the first place.

  2. Great now the kids can clobber the other kids with their backpacks with a three pound plate in it
    Can’t we just teach the kids to not be such pansies and to respect human life?

  3. “I can’t vote, but I can engineer.” Cotroneo said.

    Sad state of affairs when the targeted has little to no voice here. Thank you Ava for showing that there can be some solutions but we all know the real problem lies with the NRA and RW kooks, fix yourselves, realize that there are MORE IMPORTANT issues than Drag Storytime… like keeping kids alive for ANY storytime.

  4. I thought that I invented this in 2001 but I searched and found they were already for sale online. Amazon is full of them.

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