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Taos students featured on ‘The Tonight Show’

Copyright © 2017 Albuquerque Journal

Three Taos High School students went nationwide Wednesday night.

The trio of young scientists appeared on “The Tonight Show” and showed host Jimmy Fallon their discovery that makes fabric fire-resistant.

Indigo Acosta, Daniel Cordova and Cameron Gonzales, all 10th-graders, displayed that they called “Nanoform” as part of “Fallonventions,” a recurring segment on the TV show in which kids show off their own real inventions before Fallon answers with his own silly, nonsensical contraption.

“It was once in a lifetime,” 16-year-old Gonzales said of the trip, which was also his first time in New York City. “It was awe-inspiring. I can’t even find the words to say how amazing it is to be there and for people to want us to show off our project.”

Cordova, 15, added that the Taos team has been working on Nanoform for about three years.

Under labcoats, all three wore orange bow ties on Fallon’s show, a nod to the Taos High Tigers’ team colors.

Nanoform, a coating made out of carbon, crab shells and baking soda, is placed on fabric that then becomes fire-resistant and anti-bacterial. Acosta told Fallon it also makes the original material more “breathable,” which he later noted is a side effect from the crab shells allowing airflow through the fabric.

Unlike regular fabric, nothing happened to the Nanoform-coated material when Acosta took a blow torch to it.

“That’s a great invention,” a beaming Fallon told the teens. “I love that, that’s amazing.” Fallon later gave each student $5,000 from the segment’s sponsor, General Electric. Gonzales told the Journal the money will likely go toward furthering the Taos team’s product.

The invention is designed to make first responders and military uniforms safer. Gonzales said recent tragedies like school and concert shootings had inspired him to keep working on it. “Our first responders, they are put in danger every day and people don’t realize it,” he said.

Boston’s Natick Soldier Systems Center, which became interested in the product after seeing it at a national science fair and invited the Taos group to its labs, recommended the kids for “The Tonight Show.” The show notified them last week that they would be traveling to New York, said Laura Tenorio, Taos Municipal Schools’ science fair coordinator and the students’ sponsor.

“It is truly amazing. It’s showing exactly what can happen if you put a lot of hard work and study into (your work),” said Tenorio, who is also Acosta’s aunt.

In addition to fine-tuning the concentration so Nanoform can be put in spray bottles, which will make it easier to coat various materials, Acosta, also 15, says the group will continue researching fireproofing and bulletproofing science, with hopes of combining the two into one concentration.

Gonzales and Cordova said the three students plan to keep working together until the product is perfected, whether that means through high school or into their college years.

“I think we all plan to keep working on it until we get somewhere, a lot further than we have,” said Cordova.

What invention did Fallon show the young Taoseños? He put on a ball cap with miniature Venetian blinds on the bill that could be lowered to provide shade.