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Five Indian Americans among 10 finalists of the 2016 Discovery Young Scientist Challenge

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Middle school students to compete for the title of ‘America’s Top Young Scientist’.

Five Indian American whiz kids are among the 10 finalists in the highly competitive Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge: Meghna Behari; Mrinali Kesavadas; Maanasa Mendu; Rohit Mital; and Rohan Wagh.

The 10 budding scientists will compete in the final event on Tuesday, October 18, for a grand prize of $25,000, the title of ‘America’s Top Young Scientist’, and an opportunity to attend the taping of a Discovery Network show.

The competition will be held over two days, October 17-18, at the 3M Innovation Center in St. Paul, Minnesota, where the finalists will be evaluated on a series of challenges including a presentation of their completed innovation.

The finalists – next generation of STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) leaders — were selected from scores of competitors across the nation based on their scientific prowess, exceptional innovative and communication skills, and an uncanny ability to make a positive difference in their community, the country, and around the world.

America's Young Scientist Challenge Finalists of 2016, from top, left to right: Meghna Behari; Maanasa Mendu; Rohit Mital; Mrinali Kesavadas; and Rohan Wagh. Photo courtesy: Discovery Education and 3M
America’s Young Scientist Challenge Finalists of 2016, from top, left to right: Meghna Behari; Maanasa Mendu; Rohit Mital; Mrinali Kesavadas; and Rohan Wagh. Photo courtesy: Discovery Education and 3M

Meghna Behari, 13, of Sewickley, Pennsylvania, has created a device to help access hard to reach waterways. A seventh-grade student at Marshall Middle School, she became cognizant of the difficulty to analyze the quality of hard to reach water sources. Now, she monitors temperature, conductivity and pH levels hoping to revolutionize the way scientific research is conducted.

Mrinali Kesavadas, 14, of Mahomet, Illinois, has invented a low-cost CPR simulator to help save lives in developing countries. The device is portable and can run a computer-based program to inform users about the correct way to perform CPR. An eighth-grade student at Mahomet-Seymour Jr. High School, Mrinali’s favorite invention is the cell phone as it can save many lives during medical or other emergencies.

Maanasa Mendu, 13, of Mason, Ohio, has created a device which she hopes will harness wind power making it a globally applicable energy source. After learning that wind power only produces four percent of America’s energy, Maanasa, an eighth-grade student at Mason Middle School, entered the Young Scientist Challenge believing her invention can provide electricity to the world in an eco-friendly and cost-effective manner.

Rohit Mital, 13, of Rochester Hills, Michigan, wants to eliminate untimely deaths due to air pollution. An eighth-grade student at West Middle School, he has invented a device to control pollution from diesel automobiles by optimizing particular filters. The young innovator discovered that his invention can reduce particulate matter thereby saving lives across the globe, and also conserve energy by saving 250 million gallons of fuel per year.

Rohan Wagh, 14, of Portland, Oregon, is desirous of eliminating energy poverty in developing countries. An eighth-grader at Stoller Middle School, his method increases the efficiency of a microbial fuel cell. Rohan believes his invention which is compact and requires minimum maintenance can be used effectively all over the world.

The other finalists are: Amelia Day, Sara Makboul, Will Paschal, Sofia Tomov, and Kaien Yang. All 10 – six girls and four boys – were afforded an opportunity to work one-on-one with a renowned 3M Scientist during a summer mentorship program. Each student receives $1,000 and an expense-paid trip to the 3M headquarters to participate in the final competition.

The Young Scientist Challenge is the nation’s premier science competition for students in grades 5 through 8. It has turned scores of young people across the nation into innovators while enhancing science exploration and honing communication skills. The goal is “to foster a new generation of American scientists at an age when interest in science generally declines”. Students are encouraged to think out of the box, to come up with innovative ideas and solutions for tomorrow’s challenges.

“At 3M, we know the importance of encouraging ‘next-gen’ scientific thinkers who will invent new ways to solve the issues our customers face everyday – from keeping workers safe on the job to addressing global issues like access to clean water”, said Jon Lindekugel, senior vice president for Business Development and Marketing Sales at 3M, in a statement. “Through 3M’s summer mentorship with the finalists, we’re excited to hear their fresh ideas and to provide guidance through the scientific process as their projects move from concept to reality”.

Bill Goodwyn, president and CEO of Discovery Education, notes, “The Young Scientist Challenge brings the magic of science to life for young people everywhere – enhancing science exploration nationwide, and helping to develop the communication, critical thinking, and problem solving skills today’s students need for success beyond the classroom”.


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