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Alia Al Mansoori, 15

In 2017, Alia’s research on heat shock proteins won her the Genes in Space Award. She discovered that these could potentially be used as a shield for the human body for conditions such as microgravity and radiation that are typically encountered in outer space. “Astronauts can’t keep wearing suits to protect us forever,” she claims. “I wanted to find a way to keep us safe from the inside out.”

First there was a flash of light, followed by a wall of sound, as the Falcon 9 rocket lifted into clear Florida skies, carrying the dreams of Emirati teenager Alia Al Mansoori into space. Loaded on the Dragon capsule on top of the Space X rocket was her winning experiment in the UAE Genes in Space competition, sponsored by The National, the UAE Space Agency and Boeing. 

Watching the Falcon 9 climb into the sky, Alia said: “I literally can’t believe that my experiment is now in space. All the months of effort was worthwhile. The feeling I got when it launched was just so inspiring.” The experiment has a number of applications, including researching diseases and also seeing if it is possible to test human genomes in space – something which has never been done before. If successful they will help humans better prepare for the radiation experienced in deep space flight to destinations like Mars – one of Alia’s ambitions.

 

Rohan, Suri 17

Rohan Suri is the founder of Averia Health Solutions, “The World’s Most Inexpensive and Accurate Concussion Test.” The method uses nothing more than the practitioner’s smartphone and a headset to perform the diagnosis via eye tracking tests. Rohan was motivated to develop Averia after his brother was misdiagnosed with a concussion. At the time, the success of eye tracking tests was being held back by the costly equipment necessary to perform the tests. Since then, Rohan’s invention has gained a considerable amount of traction after successfully diagnosing hundreds of patients.

Young Women Organize and Lead Protest in Nashville

On Thursday, local teenagers— Nya Collins, Zee Thomas, Jade Fuller and Emma Rose Smith—organized and led a massive march through the streets of Nashville to protest police brutality, making their way through Bicentennial Park to Broadway to the state Capitol. The protest started at 4 p.m., and according to some estimates, the march drew at least 10,000 people.

The event was organized by Teens for Equality, which began the protest with a series of emotional speeches from its members.

Teen organizer Zee Thomas gives a speech at the start of Thursday’s youth-led protest against police brutality. “As teens, we are tired of waking up and seeing another innocent person being slain in broad daylight,” said Zee Thomas, one of the six teenage girls who organized the mass protest. “As teens, we are desensitized to death because we see videos of black people being killed in broad daylight circulating on social media platforms. As teens, we feel like we cannot make a difference in this world, but we must.”

The protesters gathered behind a large banner reading “black lives matter” and headed toward downtown, stopping to chant, kneel and rally throughout the march. The thousands of demonstrators filled a roughly one-mile stretch of Rosa Parks Boulevard as they left Bicentennial Park and made their way downtown. When the protesters arrived at Broadway, they were stopped by police just before they reached the row of neon-signed honky-tonks. The marchers dropped to their knees as some protesters read out the names of those killed by police, including George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

 

Maanasa Mendu, 15

This brilliant 13-year-old figured out how to make clean energy using a device that costs $5

On Tuesday, Maanasa Mendu, a 13-year-old from Ohio, won the grand prize in the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge for her work in creating a cost-effective “solar leaves” design to create energy. In addition to winning the title of “America’s Top Young Scientist,” she gets $25,000 for her achievement.

The leaves, designed to help developing areas in need of cheaper power sources, cost roughly $5 to make.

Over the past three months, Mendu and nine other finalists worked on their projects alongside a mentor provided by 3M. Mendu was inspired to come up with a cheaper way to produce energy after visiting India, where she saw many people who lacked access to affordable clean water and electricity. Originally, her intent was to harness only wind energy.

But along the way, Mendu, with the help of her 3M mentor Margauz Mitera, shifted to a different kind of energy collection. Drawing inspiration from how plants function, she decided to focus on creating her “solar leaves” that harnessed vibrational energy.

Here’s how it works: her “leaves” can pick up energy from precipitation, wind, and even the sun using a solar cell and piezoelectric material (the part of the leaf that picks up on the vibrations). These are then transformed into usable energy. 

Now that the competition is over, Mendu said she wants to develop the prototype further and conduct more tests so that one day she can make it available commercially. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peyton Robertson

Peyton Robertson began inventing at only eight years old. He was brought up by his parents to find solutions to problems rather than complain about them. By the time he turned twelve, he had won first place in the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge for inventing the “Sandless Operational Sandbag” (SOS). His invention is much lighter than conventional sandbags, more intuitively-designed to avoid seawater and floodwater from seeping in, and 100% reusable. Once dried after use, the SOS can then be stored for future flood emergencies.

When he first discovered his love for math and science, Peyton was encouraged by his parents to think differently. Instead of seeing problems only as just causes of trouble, he was made to search for solutions; it sure helped that Peyton was a genius from birth.

After seeing how poorly the sandbags performed as flood deterrents, he set out to revolutionize their design and components. The first thing to go was the sand; instead of heavy sandbag content, he replaced it with light polymers, which expand when wet and absorb the liquid. He then added salt to make the contents denser than the saltwater it needed to keep out. To optimize blocking efficiency, he also fashioned his sandbags with plaster to keep them interlocked and ensure no salt water would find its way into the gaps.

Peyton explains, ““Failure is progress and a normal part of the process. Whether it’s science or life, you have to start, fail and just keep pushing. In a football game, time runs out, and a golf match ends after the last hole. But when you are working on something and it doesn’t work, you just extend the game – and give your experiment or your prototype another go.” 

 

 

Hannah Herbst

Hannah Herbst has a passion for learning, solving problems, and helping others. She graduated from Florida Atlantic University High School in 2019, and is finishing her bachelor’s degree at Florida Atlantic University in 2020.    

Hannah created an ocean energy probe prototype that seeks to offer a stable power source to developing countries using untapped energy from ocean currents. This innovation was inspired by Hannah’s desire to help her nine-year-old penpal living in Sub-Saharan Africa, where many people live in energy poverty with sporadic or no access to electricity. In addition, Hannah has explored early identification methods for hazardous airborne chemicals in collaboration with I-SENSE at Florida Atlantic University, and is currently studying the properties of shark skin for medical applications at the Florida Atlantic Biomechanics Lab. 

Hannah won the 2015 Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge. She has received 6 research grants from Florida Atlantic University, and has delivered keynote addresses at the United Nations, USA Science and Engineering Festival, Social Innovation Summit, National Science Olympiad Competition, and World Science Festival.

 

Marley Dias

When Marley Dias was age 11, she complained to her mother that all of her mandatory readings were books about white boys and dogs. She said, “There wasn’t really any freedom for me to read what I wanted.” After talking to her mother, Dias decided to start a book drive, #1000BlackGirlBooks, bringing more attention to literature featuring black female protagonists. 

Marley Dias’ book drive focused specifically on books in which black girls are the main characters, not minor or background characters. She launched a campaign called #1000BlackGirlBooks in 2015, with the goal to collect 1,000 books to donate for black girls. In just a few months, more than 9,000 books were collected. Many of these books have been sent to a children’s book drive in Jamaica. The campaign also called public attention to the lack of diversity in children’s literature.

Dias, whose project has been popular all over the world, wrote and published her own book, Marley Dias Gets It Done: And So Can You!. Marley wanted to show the children all over the world that their wishes or dreams can come true. Scholastic Corporation, a global children’s publishing company, released the book in the spring of 2018. Marley said, “I think writing gives me creative freedom. I love just being able to do whatever I want. When I create a story, I can make it however funny, sad, or happy I want it to be.”

A crisis as opportunity?

Schools are necessarily closed. Children and youths are home. Can this enforced “shelter-in-place” become an opportunity to invite your child(ren) and/or youth(s) to explore their own creativity either through existing forms—art, music, writing, programming, etc.—or by playing around with some new creative expression or form?

Imagine…

Imagine a world in which millions of youths in societies all across the Earth have accessed integral consciousness and are guided in their lives from this quality of being. 

Avoiding the creation of “forbidden fruits”

We were trying not to create forbidden fruits. We wanted her to learn to see through these kind of things—Barbie—not just to see it the way we do, but to make her own way through things, so she can see for herself how things are.