Codebreaker

Google Science Fair winners. Or, kids: they’re smart!

Marc Sanchez Jul 26, 2012

To most high school-aged kids roaming around a giant airplane hangar might elicit groans of “booooaring!” followed by scowls and brooding tosses of the hair. But, for participants in the Google Science Fair, there’s no other place they would have liked to be. The hangar was the site where finalists showed off their inventions and waited for the prizes to be awarded ($25k-$50k scholarships and science-friendly trips to places like the Fermilab).
First place went to Brittany Wenger, who thought it would be neat to figure out a way to make non-invasive screening for breast cancer more accurate, so she did it. The 17-year-old Lakewood Ranch, Floridian wrote a program that harnesses the power of several computers – a neural network – to learn and diagnose patterns in “fine-needle aspiration,” a type of screening that is usually less accurate than traditional mammography. The Huffington Post writes, “Wenger is helping change that, as her program correctly identifies 99 percent of malignant tumors.”
Another finalist, junior high student Jonah Kohn, figured out a way to make music more tactile for the hard of hearing. Then there was a team from Spain that tracked and mapped dirty microbes swimming in patches of Spanish fresh water.
A typical day in silicon valley, I guess.

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