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Robinson Collaboration Grant Report: Mount Vernon Presbyterian School and Second Baptist School

Wednesday, April 19, 2017  
Posted by: Christina Mimms
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Project Radix

By Nadine Sally Saab, Second Baptist School, Houston, TX


Executive Summary

This report’s purpose identifies and explains the homeless population’s sanitation problem in Houston, Texas. Also this report proposes and analyzes Second Baptist School’s UV light sanitation system, known as Project Radix, as the best solution to this problem. This system will sanitize the belongings of residents of homeless shelters such as the Star of Hope. This report discusses how multiple classes and individuals created this project.


Javier Saavedra and Laura Towne


This report began its journey on the eighth of January in the year of 2017 in the city of Houston, Texas. It tackles the problem of diseases in the homeless population of Houston and explains how the homeless population lacks correct infrastructures to sanitize their belongings. Avoiding sickness remains a nearly impossible task in the homeless population. In order to solve this problem questions such as how to prevent epidemics” and how to approach this problem” required answers. Conventional methods such as soap and water simply could not resolve this issue. The population needed a faster, more economical and reliable solution. The answer came in the form of a UV radiation system coined “Radix.” A few of the general subject matters of this report include how the UV light sanitation box known as Radix operates, who took part in its creation and development, and its potential when used by organizations such as Star of Hope. The overall scope of this report identifies and explains the sanitation problem of the homeless population in Houston, presents the Radix Project as the best solution to this problem, and analyzes how this Second Baptist project operates and how it was created as well as how the multiple classes and individuals came together and their roles in creating this project, and how Radix can bring improvement in the future for the health of residents of organizations such as the Star of Hope.


Through experimentation, trial, error, and finally success, Radix became the answer for solving the health problem for homeless Houstonians. It is efficient, accurate, safe, easy, and economical. 100% of the time, our sanitation box destroys the DNA of the viruses and the bacteria in only 120 seconds, making them no longer able to reproduce. This efficiency and accuracy along with our care for the safety of the user takes the form of the most important aspect of this project. Our concern for safety is shown through our addition of subjects such as the UV filter acrylic cover. It is also easy and cheap to produce due to the protective case for the Arduino and the cable management system being 3D printed. 

The second semester’s UV team goals are to decrease the exposure time increase the radiation dosage, and create a larger version of this machine, able to store and sanitize more and multiple things at once.

The partnership with Star of Hope will allow Radix to be utilized in the real world. The homeless population that will be helped by Star of Hope will have the opportunity to sanitize their belongings efficiently and effectively to decrease the likelihood of sickness in the streets.


3.1 The Problem

People without permanent residences, reside in areas susceptible to bacteria. Because of the lack of monetary value possessed by homeless people, they do not have the capability to clean their belongings. And when they do get sick, which can be often considering their areas of residence, how can they sanitize their belongings so that they do not get sick again?

3.2 The Attempts

First thoughts in approaching this problem failed. Methods such as soap and water proved to act as futile choices. A faster, more economical, reasonable, and reliable method was needed. After trial and error of multiple methods of sanitation, UV radiation alone succeeded. UV radiation is a type of electromagnetic radiation which comes from the sun and is invisible to the human eye. UV light with the right wave length will “handicap” the DNA of bacteria and viruses, taking away their ability to reproduce. At first, the idea was to sanitize individuals, however this cannot be done due to the cancer-like effects it may cause. After discovering this through research, it was decided that a prototype chamber big enough to fit clothes and/or a blanket would be built.

3.3 The Prototype

The system was designed as a 6x12in. box. On the right side is a 3D printed cable management system, on the top sits a control panel made of Arduino, its 3D printed protective casing, and a timer meant to measure the dosage of UV radiation the harming agent received, and on the front face is a UV filter acrylic covering. The UV team first created the rectangular boxlike design with an opening on the face to be able to insert objects in and retract them from the device. A protective door-like UV filter acrylic layer was then added to the open face of the machine to shield the user from harmful UV radiation. The team then put down a reflective foil surface so that the rays are able to bounce and touch every surface inside the box. They also inserted and secured into the box a UV lamp, which gives off electromagnetic radiation with wavelengths ranging between those of visible light and those of X-rays. The creation and attachment of a control panel made of Arduino came next, which was set up so that the user could control the UV lamp. Of course, the question of safety again came into play as UV rays are harmful, and the user would have a major responsibility in wielding such as device. Thus, a key and lock design was added onto the casing of the control panel for an extra layer of security. 

3.4 The Success

According to Javier Saavedra, “The inception of the idea is to take advantage of the creativity and knowledge of the children in this nation in order to give back to the community” which is exactly how progress started to be made on project Radix. First, students in the Physics Application and Design classes and students in all Biology classes, academic, honors, and AP began researching how to sanitize hard surfaces in order to kill bacteria and viruses in a safe manner. The Physics Application and Design students as well as the students in the multitude of Robotics courses worked on the design and construction of this machine. Students in Biology courses collected samples and cultivated bacteria which came from phones, bathrooms, elevator buttons, and the cafeteria floor. This bacteria was then exposed to several different doses of time. An exposure time of 120 seconds to UV radiation offered the best results, by killing all of the cultivated bacteria. After this success, the UV team has been working to decrease the time of exposure by increasing the radiation dose and to increase the size of the design in order to sanitize larger objects and multiple objects at once. This semester, the students will be creating the larger version of the machine. The size of the larger version will be big enough to fit a blanket in it. 

3.5 The Goal

Their plan is to deliver a larger version of the chamber, which will have the ability to hold and sanitize multiple items at once, to homeless people in Houston shelters, so they can have the right infrastructure to sanitize their belongings (blankets, plates, etc.), in order to “clean up the streets from disease” as Javier Saavedra put it.

This is a goal of the team during the second semester as well as taking this prototype and decreasing the time of exposure and increasing the radiation dosage.

3.5.1 The Partnership with Star of Hope

Mr. Saavedra emphasized the importance of Second Baptist School’s partnership with Star of Hope. Star of Hope is a Christ-centered organization with the goal of meeting the needs of homeless children, men, and women. “Positive life changes” ("Our Mission," 2017) are achieved through programs which are structured to focus on spiritual education, growth, life management, employment, and substance abuse recovery. Star of Hope expects Second Baptist School to create a larger and faster product to use in their facilities.

3.6 The Name

The project was coined Radix for a multitude of reasons. Fundamentally, it shortened the original title of “UV Light Sanitation Box” to a shorter, simpler, and more professional term. It also combined the two words, radiation and index, each with its own definition relating and contributing to the meaning of project. Radiation reminds of what is being working with, while index can have two important meanings. It can mean guide, as in to succeed in the UV Team’s mission to better the health of the homeless Houstonian population. Index may also be interpreted as a show of value to the UV Team’s cause. Even the combined term Radix itself possess a meaning that ties together the entire character of the project. By definition, the word radix means “a source or origin of something.” It stands to remind of the source and reason of the project, and why it must succeed. According to Javier Saavedra, the reason it must succeed is because, We want to have a positive impact in the lives of people who do not have the blessings we have.” 



Institute of Medicine, & Committee on Health Care for Homeless People. (1988). Summary and recommendation. In Homelessness, health, and human needs.

Cage, K. (2009, July 27). Report writing [Video file]. Retrieved from

Our mission statement. (2017). Retrieved February 3, 2017, from Star of Hope website:

Saavedra, J. (2017, January 27). [Personal interview by the author].

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