Every year, hundreds of students from fifth to eighth grade gather in St. Paul, Minnesota for the 3M Young Scientist Challenge. This year’s winner is 14-year-old Kara Fan, who invented a nan0 particle liquid bandage.
“I feel really shocked and surprised but really excited at the same time,” Fan said after learning she had won. “My project is important because it reduces the overuse of antibiotics.”
The Young Scientist Challenge invites students to submit a 1-2 minute video describing a “unique solution to an everyday problem.” Ten finalists are chosen to present their projects in front of 3M and Discovery Education executives. Then, the winner receives $25,000 and an exclusive 3M Mentorship. The Challenge judges “passion for science, spirit of innovation and ingenuity, and effective communication skills.”
Fan, who is from San Diego, California and attends Mesa Verde Middle School, said that her favorite invention of the last 100 years is the discovery of penicillin.
“Sir Fleming’s discovery saved millions of lives,” Fan told 3M in an interview. “Before the invention of antibiotics and Penicillin, there was no effective treatment for infections such as pneumonia, gonorrhea or rheumatic fever. Hospitals were full of people with blood poisoning contracted from a cut or a scratch, and doctors could do little for them but wait and hope. With the development of antibiotics, it changed the field of medicine, the military in war, and cured many diseases, improving the health and lives of millions of individuals.”
Fan hopes to become a microbiologist.
“My takeaway from this project is that if you work well with other people then great things happen,” she said.
Second place winner Caroline Crouchley created a sustainable train that she says is safer and more efficient than Elon Musk’s Hyperloop.
“Four million children develop asthma every year due to air pollution from cars and trucks, and there are 11,000 new cases every day,” Crouchley told CBS News. “So I want to prevent all this from happening.”
Another student, Faraz Tamboli, created a device that translates sign language into voice and voice into sign language.
Past winners of the competition have gone on to be featured in Forbes’s 30 Under 30 list, speak before Congress, and meet the President.
With all these kids working to improve our lives and world, the future looks bright!