5 Teenagers with Attitude

Celebrating the best and brightest of the future of Women in STEM

Photo Credit: Pexels/Nguyen Nguyen

High performance rechargeable batteries. Water purification filters. Neuron survival and recovery treatments. Mentorships for underserved students. Driver safety headsets.

Impressive projects, yes?

These are the achievements of high school students.

These are the achievements of female high school students.


Kathy Liu

Left: Kathy Liu, 17, of Salt Lake City, UT in 2016. Photo Credit: Intel/Shawn Morgan

For her work in “Nature-Based Solid Polymer Electrolytes for Improved Safety, Sustainability, and Efficiency in High-Performance Rechargeable Batteries”, Kathy Liu was awarded the Intel Foundation Young Scientist Award worth US$50,000. By using solid polymer electrolytes in lithium-ion batteries (used in everything from Tesla automobiles to consumer electronics), she theorized that the risk of fire inherent in such batteries could be averted, thereby improving battery safety and performance. Original Story: Intel

Sabah Hussain

Sabah Hussain, 17, of Chicago, IL in 2016. Photo Credit: ChicagoInno

Classic entrepreneurship: She identified a need and worked towards addressing it. Getting into a selective enrollment school in Chicago is comparable to a prestigious college’s admission process. Sabah Hussain experienced this firsthand as a student at Lane Tech High School. Hoping to help those who would follow in her footsteps, she launched the nonprofit Link Scholars with Maesha Shonar. Link Scholars hopes to connect high school mentors with middle school students. Original Story: Karis Hustad

Indrani Das

Indrani Das, 17, of Oradell, NJ in 2017. Photo Credit: Society for Science & the Public

Indrani Das won $250,000 in the 2017 Regeneron Science Talent Search, the oldest and most prestigious science and math compeition in the country. She performed a three-year study of a possible approach to treating the loss of neurons inneurodegenerative diseases and brain injuries, showing that exosomes isolated from astrocytes transfected with microRNA-124a both improved astrocyte uptake of glutamate and increased neuron survival. When she’s not exploring the intricacies of the human brain, Indrani plays the piccolo trumpet in a four-person jazz ensemble and volunteers with her local ambulance service. Original Story: Society for Science & the Public

Katherine Wu

Katherine Wu, 14, of N. Potomac, MD developed this “Driver’s Companion” in 2014. Photo Credit: Haibin Wu

This little gizmo is the brainchild of Katherine Wu, who observed how her mom would talk to her dad as he was driving on family vacations to keep him awake at the wheel. Analyzing the user’s brain waves as he or she drives, the device is able to send visual and auditory signals (such as colors, beeps, and music) to the driver if the driver’s brain waves begin to indicate drowsiness, even increasing in severity (including warnings like, “You’re tired. Please take a break.”) when needed. That’s some serious ingenuity and coding know-how for (at the time) a ninth-grader. Original Story: Casey Leins

Deepika Kurup

Using affordable materials, sustainable techniques, and her compassion for people in need, Deepika developed a water filter that could eliminate contaminants using sunlight. She won the National Geographic Explorer Award at the 2015 Google Science Fair. Project Details

Deepika Kurup, 17, of Nashua, NH in 2015. Video Credit: Google Science Fair

Even as we look back on the amazing — sometimes forgotten — history of women, it is imperative that we continue to inspire girls like Kathy, Nina, Indrani, Katherine, and Deepika to pursue their dreams and change the world. Elsewhere, for other girls, hurdles such as stereotypes and gender bias, a lack of societal and employer support, and a lack of role models remain.

Thankfully, awareness of this problem continues to rise year-after-year. Events and competitions such as those run by Intel, Siemens, and Google encourage teenagers to look at real-world problems. Groups like the American Association of University Women (AAUW), Scientista, the Association for Women in Science (AWIS), and the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) tackle the issue by providing financial support, education, and mentorship to young aspiring female innovators. The university in your local area likely runs an engagement program as well. NASA, as another example, runs a virtual mentoring program.

These organizations understand that when women and other minorities are encouraged to participate, when teams are diverse, the results are superior and everyone is better off.

I was taught that the way of progress was neither swift nor easy — Marie Curie

Women’s History Month is not just about the past; It’s about the future.

#BreakingBarriers



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