Young robot designer inspired new ViroGOLD hand sanitiser range

Learners across South Africa now encouraged to enter their designs too for competition

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An 11-year-old entrepreneur from Paarl in the Western Cape now boasts his own sketch on a hand sanitiser range following an earlier Food For Mzansi campaign to inform children about the covid-19 pandemic.

Jan Louwrens, a grade 5 learner from Curro Online, says he still cannot believe that one of his robot sketches made it to the label of ViroGOLDSchool, a hand sanitiser range distributed to schools across South Africa. He now encourages other children to enter a sanitiser superhero label design competition currently underway.

His mother, Ronelle Louwrens, the CEO of YehBaby Digital, says Jan could barely hold a pencil when he drew his first robot that would later lead to his own T-shirt company, Baggo Stonetrip. The business was named after a favourite robot toy.

ALSO READ: 11-year-old releases cover-19 series in 11 languages

Describing the inspiration behind his ViroGold hand sanitiser bottle design, Jan says, “My sanitiser superhero is a robot as it’s a natural place for me to start. I wanted my robot to be an unusual hero, and a complete hypochlorous acid (HOCl) processing machine. I love science.”

Across the world, HOCl is used to sanitise air and disinfect surfaces in hospitals, meat processing plants, schools and more. Various studies, including research published in the Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, have found that HOCl can be used with a high predictability for disinfecting against SARS-CoV-2.

The 11-year-old Jan Louwrens created this robot sketches for ViroGOLDSchool, a hand sanitiser range distributed to schools across South Africa. The range was inspired by Food For Mzansi’s Thandi and Captain Stay Safe covid-19 campaign. Image: Supplied

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Jan, a former learner of Paarl Boys’ Primary School, says, “I first drew it with lots of little chambers, but then decided on this one large chamber as you only need water, salt and electricity to make HOCl. At first, I also made the robot very buff and spiky (thinking about the virus), but made it gradually less and less aggressive because I think it should be kind.”

His advice to other youngsters wanting to enter the competition, is to imagine what they would like to see on their own sanitiser bottle. “Think about what you’re passionate about. For me it’s robots and super powers. Then try to imagine what those powers would look like if you had to draw them or explain it to someone. I usually just start drawing and the ideas come as I draw. I prefer line drawings, but it’s important to draw with whatever you like – crayons, paint, colour pencils, etc. Don’t just take your first design as each one will be a bit better. Always start with the chest as it will determine what kind of a character you draw.”

According to Jan, a great design grabs your attention and imagination. “It’s balanced, so there are no areas that are too big or too small. Looking at a good design, you’ll also immediately know what the creator wants you to feel or understand. I think a great design is well thought out and has enough detail. Don’t follow the crowd and build as much skill and creativity as you can.”

Jan played an instrumental role in Food For Mzansi’s earlier Thandi and Captain Stay Safe campaign educating learners in all 11 South African languages about covid-19. He dreams of one day becoming a robot designer and businessman. This is well within his reach, especially bearing in mind that he has already worked with software company Snapt, developed two robots for his school class group, and developed a robot for a coding app.

Click here to listen to episode 1 of “Thandi and Captain Stay Safe”.

Debra Buys from CanbiGold Marketing says, “Jan’s design will appear on all our ViroGOLDSchool products until the winners are announced and we hope it will inspire other learners to participate. It promises to be a fun activity to do at home or at school, teach kids about disinfectants and why it’s so important to stay clean and safe.”

The competition will have three categories namely pre-school, primary school and high school. A panel of judges from CanbiGold including marketing, social media and senior executives will select the winner and two runners-up in each category. Buys explains: “Not only will the winners and runners-up receive cash prizes, but their schools will also win some of our ViroGOLDSchool products. Each category winner will also get a T-shirt from Jan’s online range.

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