At the end of last months, the Google Science Fair took place in Mountain View, California, where tech giant Google is headquartered. At the fair were some of the world’s brightest young minds, each presenting a unique and innovative solution to worldwide problems.
On Monday, September 23rd, prizes were awarded to the top young scientists, with four in particular coming out big: Viney Kumar of Australia, Ann Makosinski of Canada, Elif Bilgin of Turkey, and Eric Chen of the USA.
Viney Kumar won the +13-14 age group with his project, the PART Program. Kumar developed an application that greatly improves the success rate of Emergency Response Vehicles (ERVs). Currently, most drivers get about 7 seconds of warning time that an ERV is headed towards them; Kumar’s app alerts drivers when the vehicle is within 500 feet, giving drivers over a minute to find a safe place to pull over and let the vehicle through.
The +15-16 age group winner was Ann Makosinski, who developed a battery-free flashlight that is powered by the heat of the human hand. Makosinski used Peltier tiles in her manufacturing of the flashlight, allowing her to harness energy created by the heating of the hand on one side and the cooler ambient airflow on the other side. She says she her project can continue on, reducing our usage of batteries and creating clean and (nearly) free energy for all.
Sixteen-year-old Elif Bilgin represented Turkey well with “Going Bananas.” Bilgin worked for two years to create bioplastic from banana peels, using up a waste material while at the same time developing a suitable replacement for petroleum-based plastic. Bilgin was a finalist in the +15-16 age group, and won the Scientific American Science in Action Prize and the Voter’s Choice Award.
Last, but certainly not least, was Eric Chen, who was both the +17-18 age group winner and the Grand Prize winner. His project, “The Taming of the Flu,” led him to discover a number of “novel, potent endonuclease inhibitors,” which could lead to a new anti-flu medicine. Chen hopes to develop an anti-flu medicine that will be effective against all strains of the flu, and his project combines the use of computer modeling and biological studies to get the job done.
Check out all the finalists’ videos, as well as the other participants’ projects on the Google Science Fair website.