(St. John’s College High School, Washington, D.C.) Recognizing the global education crisis faced by girls in the developing world, Shalvit helped impoverished girls in Haiti create a sustainable plan for raising funds to pay their school fees. Shalvit worked with local organizations to help the girls source durable, free materials that would otherwise be discarded; cut and sew these materials into simple drawstring backpacks using solar-powered sewing machines (for which she helped raise funds); and develop strategies for getting the bags to market. Shalvit is currently enrolled at St. John’s University.
(Ellington High School, Ellington, Conn.) Tina’s concern about children’s death from vaccine-preventable diseases around the globe led her to address the “last mile” distribution problem that often prevents children in remote areas from having access to vaccines. Tina invented an innovative delivery container to keep the vaccines cool (over the many hours it may take to travel that “last mile” before they reach rural families) using readily available, green and inexpensive materials: corn oil, coconut oil (as phase change material) and copper coil (to create a thermal control release system). Tina’s invention has the potential to save many lives. Tia is currently a high school senior.
(Engineering & Science University Magnet School, West Haven, Conn.). Bringing together two fields usually cut off from one another — antimicrobial health research and anti-cancer treatments — Prastik’s research explored the possibilities of a novel anti-cancer compound, based on usnic acid, that could attack a form of cancer which occurs when a liver cell enzyme goes awry. Prastik’s fresh approach to inhibiting the growth of specific enzymes that would kill the bacteria needed for cancer cells to grow could be an important contribution in the fight against cancer. Prastik is currently a high school senior.
(Commack High School, Commack, N.Y.) For those afflicted by Chronic Kidney Disease, the extent of the accumulation of fibril collagen across the kidney (which leads to loss in kidney function) must be assessed by biopsy — a highly invasive, painful and potentially dangerous procedure. Ultrasound imaging alone does not provide direct insight into the health of the kidney, and is not a viable diagnostic tool. But the equation Jake devised correlating image-based data with collagen accumulation represents a viable noninvasive alternative for assessing kidney damage. It could spare sufferers from enormous amounts of pain while providing them with accurate diagnoses of their condition. Jake is now enrolled at Brown University.
(Brooklyn Technical High School, Brooklyn, N.Y.) Troubled by the mountains of discarded scrap wood that filled multiple dumpsters after every robotics competition or science Olympiad, Karina designed an innovative machine that breaks down natural waste into compost which it then compresses into a compact cube, infusing the soil where it’s planted with nutrients as it decomposes. The mechanized composter she developed (called “R-Cubed,” since it allows the user to recycle, reduce and reuse) can help dispose of all kinds of organic waste (food, leaves, twigs, paper, etc.), and may lead to a significant impact on both the environment and on environmental awareness. Karina is currently a high school senior.
(North Shore Hebrew Academy High School, Great Neck, N.Y.) Disturbed by the number of children who die from heatstroke after being left in a car, Scott developed a distinctive technology to help prevent these deaths. His patented Vehicular Heatstroke Prevention system connects to a car’s electrical system to detect a child’s presence by measuring breathing rather than motion. This system also works for pets. It monitors the car’s internal temperature and when unsafe conditions occur, turns on the engine and air conditioning automatically to cool and aerate the car. The system will also contact nearby emergency personnel if necessary. Scott’s invention has the potential to save the lives of children and pets. Scott is furthering his studies at Columbia University.
(Bronx High School of Science, Bronx, N.Y.) Vera developed a new way to physically assemble high-performance conducting polymers without the use of toxic chemicals and bulky machinery. Vera discovered small external magnetic fields to be key to using natural, external forces to manufacture advanced functional materials more naturally. The new method Vera developed to fabricate polymer films and the research gaps that the work addressed could play a key role in the next generation of electronics. Vera is continuing her studies at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
2018 HONORABLE MENTIONS
Ashita Dhadda (Dwight Morrow High School/Academies, Fort Lee, N.J.) “Prosthetics for Change,” the nonprofit Ashita created, helped make students more aware of the needs of the physically disabled while raising funds to purchase inexpensive but sturdy and effective prosthetics for more than 100 people around the world. Ashita is currently a high school senior.
Eric DiMarco (High School of Art & Design, New York, N.Y.) Eric’s short and moving documentary, “Overcoming Dyslexia,” helped the dyslexic subject of the film become more confident and successful, and may help other children dealing with self-esteem issues due to dyslexia. Eric is currently enrolled at Brooklyn College.
Gregory Ginsburg (Bronx High School of Science, Bronx, N.Y.) The short film Gary made about the link between asthma and environmental conditions in the South Bronx could be a useful first step in an effective social media campaign that would help the Bronx Council for Environmental Quality push for positive change. Gregory is now a student at Columbia University.
Mikayla Osumah (Engineering & Science University Magnet School, New Haven, Conn.) The creative mobile app Mikayla co-developed will make it much easier for the disabled to utilize public transportation, reducing frustration and increasing accessibility. Mikayla is now a student at Quinnipiac University.
Hannah Pucci (Danbury High School, Danbury, Conn.) Hannah’s impatience with digging into rock-hard ice cream with an ice cream scooper led to her design and patent of Egghead Ice Cream, in which pre-molded ice cream eggs fit perfectly into ice cream cones and are sold in egg cartons, allowing customers to purchase up to 12 individual flavors. Hannah is continuing her studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.