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Five Indian American students among 3M Young Scientist Challenge finalists

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The Challenge is celebrating its 10th anniversary.

The Young Scientist Lab on June 20 announced the names of the finalists of its Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge and five among the ten finalists are Indian Americans.

The Challenge, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary, is the United States’ premier science competition for grades five to eight and one-of-a-kind video competition that sparked the imaginations of hundreds of thousands of students. It also enhanced science exploration, innovation, and communication across the United States.

“At 3M, we have thrived for 115 years not just by adapting to the future, but by shaping it,” Jon Lindekugel, senior vice president, business development, and marketing-sales, 3M said in a press release. “These young scientists – with their thirst for discovery and their determination to make the world a better place – are that future, and it’s our privilege to support them on their way.”

The Indian American students in the top ten are Laalitya Acharya of Ohio’s Mason, Anika Bhagavatula of Connecticut’s Wilton, Rithivik Ganesh of Texas’s Plano, Gitanjali Rao of Tennessee’s Brentwood and Samu Shrestha of Colorado’s Highlands Ranch.

Laalitya Acharya is a 13-year old 8th grade student at Manson middle school in the Manson city school district. Her project is titled as TaffEnerate: Generating Electrictiy form Vehicular Traffic. Acharya hopes to revolutionize energy in developing countries by using vehicular motion to generate and harness clean and affordable energy.

“I wanted to change the world, that simple. On my family’s yearly trip to India, I saw children who have no power in their homes, huddling near dangerous fires. I wanted to change their positions in life, to make it better by creating clean energy and electricity,” Young Scientist Lab quoted Acharya.

Anika Bhagavatula is a 14-year-old 8th grade student at Middlebrook Middle School in Wilton Public School District. She hopes to find a natural sorbent which would be effective in replacing current environmentally damaging solutions to remedy oil spills, using pomegranate husk and orange peels.

“I was particularly excited about the potential opportunity to work with a 3M Scientist Mentor to further develop my idea. I am extremely interested in environmental research and water purification and I am eager to learn and develop new ideas for preserving the environment,” Bhagavatula told the Young Scientist Lab.

The 13-year-old Rithvik Ganesh’s project is on how specific plant components can be used to treat Alzheimer’s disease.

“I would like to enter this prestigious competition to meet and share ideas with like-minded participants. I am really excited to share my experiences on this huge platform and I look forward to learning from brilliant and experienced mentors,” said Ganesh, the 7th grade student at Rice Middle School, Plano Independent School District.

The 11-year-old Gitanjali Rao is a 6th grade student at Brentwood Middle School at Williamson County School District. Her project aims to reduce the time of lead detection in water by using a mobile app, to connect over Bluetooth to get the status of water, almost immediately.

“I entered the Young Scientist Challenge because it combines my love of science, solving problems by new inventions, and creating films,” Rao told the Young Scientist Lab.

Samu Shrestha is a 13-year-old 8th grade student at Cresthill Middle School in Douglas County School District Re-1. He created a framework-based application that allows users to create custom-tailored forms of visual and verbal interaction between desktop and mobile devices.

“I entered Young Scientists Challenge mostly looking to push my own personal interests into something more socially impactful. The Young Scientists Challenge to be perfect opportunity that not only gave me a reason why, but also a platform from which to spring my ideas,” Shrestha said.

The finalists will receive $1,000 and a trip to 3M Headquarters in St. Paul, Minn. To participate in the final competition at the 3M Innovation Center on October 16 and 17. The winner will receive $25,000, a trip to watch the taping of a Discovery Network show, and the title of ‘America’s Top Young Scientist.’