Archive for the ‘Child Geniuses’ Category

Jamie Edwards, a pupil at Penwortham Priory Academy, created the project from scratch with help from his school.

“I can’t quite believe it – even though all my friends think I am mad,” he said.

The last record holder was US student Taylor Wilson, who was 14 when he created nuclear fusion in 2008.

Jamie, who started work in October in an under-used school science laboratory, recreated a process known as ‘inertial electrostatic confinement’ which dates back to the 1960s.

‘Star in jar’

“One day, I was looking on the internet for radiation or other aspects of nuclear energy and I came across Taylor Wilson,” said the junior scientist who faced a race against time to complete the project before his 14th birthday on Sunday.

“I looked at it, thought ‘that looks cool’ and decided to have a go.”

“You see this purple ball of plasma – basically it’s like a star in a jar,” he added.

Jamie, along with friend George Barker, set about trying to create nuclear fusion by consulting an open source website for amateur physicists.

His application for funds was rejected by various nuclear laboratories and universities.

School funding

Jamie set about trying to create nuclear fusion by consulting an open source website
“They didn’t seem to take me seriously as it was hard to believe a 13-year-old would do something like that so I went to my head teacher Mr Hourigan in October,” he said.

“I was a bit stunned and I have to say a little nervous when Jamie suggested this but he reassured me he wouldn’t blow the school up,” said Priory head Jim Hourigan, who agreed to give £2,000 to the project.

Jamie ordered parts and equipment from Lithuania, the US and UK, working on the project every break and lunchtime as well as after school.

His nuclear fusion record attempt is yet to be verified by the Open Source Fusor Research Consortium.

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-lancashire-26450512

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Top winner Ionut Budisteanu, 19, of Romania (center) with second-place winners Eesha Khare, 18, of Saratoga, Calif., (left) and Henry Lin, 17, of Shreveport, La., celebrate their awards at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.

Khare, an 18-year-old from California, won the Intel Foundation Young Scientist Award and $50,000 for her participation in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair run by the Society for Science & the Public. Think of it as the world’s largest science fair. Khare took home one of the top prizes for “a tiny device that fits inside cell phone batteries, allowing them to fully charge within 20-30 seconds.”

The official title of Khare’s project is “Design and Synthesis of Hydrogenated TiO2-Polyaniline Nanorods for Flexible High-Performance Supercapacitors.” Her objective reads:

With the rapid growth of portable electronics, it has become necessary to develop efficient energy-storage technology to match this development. While batteries are currently used for energy-storage, they suffer from long charging times and short cycle life. Electrochemical supercapacitors have attracted attention as energy-storage devices because they bridge the gap between current alternatives of conventional capacitors and batteries, offering higher energy density than conventional capacitors and higher power density than batteries. Despite these advantages, supercapacitor energy density is much lower than batteries and increasing energy density remains a key challenge in supercapacitor research. The goal of this work was to design and synthesize a supercapacitor with increased energy density while maintaining power density and long cycle life.

Khare’s supercapacitor can last for 10,000 charge and recharge cycles. She has used it to power an LED as a proof of concept, but envisions its future use in phones, portable electronic devices, and even car batteries.

Curious about how she did it? Put your science hat on. “To improve supercapacitor energy density, I designed, synthesized, and characterized a novel core-shell nanorod electrode with hydrogenated TiO2 (H-TiO2) core and polyaniline shell,” she writes. Essentially, that translates to a much improved supercapacitor.

The 1,600 participants were whittled down to 3 top winners. Besides Khare, Romanian student Ionut Budisteanu came in first by using artificial intelligence to create a model for a low-cost, self-driving car. Henry Lin, a 17-year-old from Louisiana, received the same award as Khare for his project that simulated thousands of clusters of galaxies.

http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-57585337-1/teens-science-project-could-charge-phones-in-20-seconds/

Phiona-Mutesi-Uganda-ches-007

She grew up in one of the poorest spots on earth. She couldn’t read or write. As a child, she scrounged for food each day for herself, her mother, and her brother.

But a chance encounter with a chess coach turned her into a rising international chess star, the subject of a book — and the protagonist in a future Disney movie.

Ugandan teenager Phiona Mutesi is “the ultimate underdog,” her biographer says.

Those who work with her believe she’s 16. But since her birthday is unclear, she might still only be 15, they say.

Her father died from AIDS when Mutesi was around 3.

“I thought the life I was living, that everyone was living that life,” the teenager told CNN, describing her childhood in Katwe, a slum in the Ugandan capital of Kampala.

“I was living a hard life, where I was sleeping on the streets, and you couldn’t have anything to eat at the streets. So that’s when I decided for my brother to get a cup of porridge.”

Robert Katende, a missionary and refugee of Uganda’s civil war, had started a chess program in Katwe. He offered a bowl of porridge to any child who would show up and learn.

“It teaches you how to assess, how to make decisions, obstructive thinking, forecasts, endurance, problem solving, and looking at challenges as an opportunity in all cases — and possibly not giving up,” he told CNN. “The discipline, the patience … anything to do with life, you can get it in that game.”

Mutesi did not become a top player overnight. But from the time she first showed up in 2005, her aptitude was clear.

Her talent is “extraordinary,” said Katende.

Mutesi liked chess, and started training and practicing regularly. “It took me like a year” to get very good, she said.

She walked about four miles a day to practice — and to get that precious food.

Soon she found herself beating the older girls and boys in the program.

Mutesi and her family faced pressure from some people in Uganda who insisted chess was a white man’s game, or at least not something girls should be playing, according to her biographer, Tim Crothers.

But in her slum, so few people even knew what chess was that they didn’t give her a hard time, Mutesi told CNN.

Eventually, she became her country’s champion — and represented Uganda at international tournaments. In 2009, she traveled to Sudan. Then, in 2010, she boarded an airplane to Siberia.

When the flight took off, “I thought that I was maybe in heaven,” she wrote in a letter to her mother quoted in Crothers’ book. “I asked God to protect me because who am I to fly to the europlane.”

Mutesi had also never seen ice before.

This year, she played in Istanbul.

Mutesi is not one of the world’s top chess players. But she is the first titled female Ugandan player. She has a fighter’s instinct to reach the top level — and to achieve much more.

“Chess gave me hope, whereby now I’m having a hope of becoming a doctor and … a grand master,” she said.

A grant from a program called Sports Outreach has allowed her to go back to school. She’s learning to read and write.

Meanwhile, Mutesi is becoming an inspiration to people all over the world.

Some learned about her through Crothers’ article for ESPN, which went viral. Others have seen a brief documentary about her on YouTube.

Crothers’ book about her, “The Queen of Katwe,” was published this fall.

“That she’s from Africa makes her an underdog in the world. The fact that she’s from Uganda makes her sort of an underdog in Africa, because it’s one of the poorer countries in Africa. The fact that she’s in Katwe makes her an underdog in Uganda because it’s the most impoverished slum in the entire country. And then to be a girl in Katwe — girls are not treated as equals to the boys,” said Crothers.

“Every hurdle that the world can place in front of her it has placed in front of her.”

The extreme poverty and deprivation in Katwe is hard for many around the world to imagine. Crothers wrote that “human waste from downtown Kampala is dumped directly into the slum. There is no sanitation.”

Mutesi wakes at 5 a.m. every morning to “begin a two-hour trek through Katwe to fill a jug with drinkable water, walking through lowland that is often so severely flooded by Uganda’s torrential rains that many residents sleep in hammocks near their ceilings to avoid drowning,” he wrote.

In the country of 34 million people, about one-fourth live below the poverty line, according to the CIA World Factbook. About three-quarters of the men in Uganda are literate; only 58% of women are.

Mutesi told CNN she’s never heard of Idi Amin, the so-called butcher of Uganda, who helped plunge his country into economic chaos throughout the 1970s.

She does know the name Joseph Kony, a brutal Ugandan warlord who was the subject of a viral video earlier this year. Kids talk about him, Mutesi said.

“He was in northern Uganda torturing people and could kidnap children. That’s what I know.”

Chess could prove to be Mutesi’s ticket out of a hard life — particularly through a project that lies ahead.

Disney has optioned the rights to “The Queen of Katwe,” and is starting work on a movie, Crothers said.

It’s all too much for Mutesi to fathom.

“I feel happy,” she said when asked about the growing attention. “I’m excited. I didn’t have hope that one time, one day, I would be like someone who can encourage people, and they start playing chess,” she told CNN.

As her world travels take off, she’s in for more and more culture shock.

“I don’t like New York because there’s too much noise in it,” the teenager said with a big smile.

But while it may be somewhat overwhelming for her, Mutesi’s success at the game she loves is bringing joy to her family.

“Some of them cried. Years back we didn’t have hope that … one day it can happen,” she said. “So they are very excited.”

http://www.cnn.com/2012/12/10/world/africa/uganda-chess-teen/index.html?hpt=hp_c1

 

A 14-year-old New York student was named “America’s Top Young Scientist” for inventing a solar-powered water jug that changes dirty water into purified drinking water.

Deepika Kurup not only surpassed 9 finalists with her science and math skills to win $25,000 from Discovery Education and 3M, she persuaded the judges with a dynamic five-minute LIVE presentation about the plight of a billion poor people who have no access to clean drinking water.

Watch her presentation below.

The cost effective and sustainable water-purification system, which harnesses solar energy to disinfect contaminated water uses her own innovative process designed to overcome current problems with portable purification. Her process can kill many types of bacteria in a fraction of the time of other methods.

Kurup, a ninth grader at Nashua High School, won the prize last week following a live competition at the 3M Innovation Center in St. Paul, Minn.

During the past three months, Kurup and the other finalists had the exclusive opportunity to work directly with a 3M scientist as they created their personal innovations as part of a summer mentorship program. The 3M Scientists provided guidance to the finalists as they developed their ideas from a theoretical concept into an actual prototype that would help solve a problem in everyday life.

The second, third and fourth place winners each received a $1,000 cash prize and a trip from Discovery Student Adventures to Costa Rica. These extraordinary students are:

  • Carolyn Jons, from Eden Prairie High School in Eden Prairie, Minn., received second place for her innovative packaging method that inhibits mold growth and helps keep food fresh longer.
  • Anin Sayana from Bellarmine College Preparatory in Cupertino, Calif., received third place for his innovation that selectively targets chemotherapy-resistant cancer stem cells.
  • Anishaa Sivakumar from Franklin Regional High School in Murrysville, Pa., received fourth place for her innovation that would help treat patients suffering from macular degeneration.

The six other finalists each received a $1,000 cash prize.

http://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/most-popular/americas-top-young-scientist-2012.html

Thanks to Kebmodee for bringing this to the attention of the It’s Interesting community.

 Rochelle Ballantyne plays chess the same way she walks through the streets of New York, determined to reach her goal without letting any obstacles slow her down.

The 17 year old from Brooklyn is just a few wins away from becoming the first female African-American to attain the ranking of chess master.

[:47] “I’ve never been the first anything so having that title next to my name is going to… it’s going to feel amazing.”

She crushes her opponents in a sport dominated by men.

Ballantyne grew up in a single parent home in the working class neighborhood of East Flatbush. She first learned to play chess from her grandmother, who didn’t want that background to limit or prevent her from reaching her fullest potential. Ballantyne did not disappoint.

[2:47] “When I push myself, then nothing can stop me.”

When it came time for middle school she wound up at I.S. 318, an inner-city public school that is home to the best chess team in the entire United States. Assistant Principal John Galvin oversees the chess program.

[4:53] “Rochelle was one of our best players that we’ve ever had in our school. She won several individual national championships.”

Her time at the middle school is featured in Brooklyn Castle, a documentary about the chess team released earlier this week.

It’s made her a rising star in the world of chess.

http://cnnradio.cnn.com/2012/10/26/african-american-blazing-a-trail-through-chess/?hpt=hp_c3

Heidi Hankins has become one of the society’s youngest members after her  intellect was measured at 59 points above the average child’s, and only one point below Stephen Hawking.

‘We always thought Heidi was pretty bright because she was reading early,’ said her father, Matthew, 46.

‘I got her the complete set of the Oxford Reading Tree books when she was two  and she read through the whole 30 in about an hour. It’s what you would expect a  seven-year-old to do.’

University lecturer Mr Hankins and wife Sophy, 42, tested Heidi and sent the  results to Mensa after nursery staff said they had no activities to challenge  her.

‘I specialise in measuring IQs in children, and I was curious about her and  the results were off the scale,’ added Mr Hankins of Winchester, Hampshire.

‘The thing is she is not precocious, she is just a little girl who likes her  Barbies and Lego but then you will find her sitting down and reading a book.’

Although she is yet to start school, Heidi can already do addition and  subtraction, write in clear sentences and could count to 40 when she was just  two.

Mensa’s youngest ever member, Elise Tan Roberts, from Edmonton, north London,  was two when she joined in 2009.

Read more: http://www.metro.co.uk/news/896011-genius-four-year-old-heidi-hankins-joins-mensa-with-iq-of-159#ixzz1rtJZywzA

Aidan Dwyer did a much better job on his 7th grade science project than any of us. While on a wintertime hike in the Catskills, he noticed the branches of trees held a spiral pattern as they ascended. He wondered if that could possibly serve some purpose, looked into it, and learned about the Fibonacci sequence, which is a mathematical way of describing a spiral. Then he studied tree branches more closely and found their leaves adhered to the sequence. Then he figured out that if he arranged solar panels the way an oak tree arranged its leaves, they were 20 to 50 percent more efficient than the standard straight-line solar arrays. That is why the American Museum of Natural History gave him a Young Naturalist award, and published his findings on its website.

http://www.amnh.org/nationalcenter/youngnaturalistawards/2011/aidan.html

His write-up concludes:

The tree design takes up less room than flat-panel arrays and works in spots that don’t have a full southern view. It collects more sunlight in winter. Shade and bad weather like snow don’t hurt it because the panels are not flat. It even looks nicer because it looks like a tree. A design like this may work better in urban areas where space and direct sunlight can be hard to find.

Not bad for a kid who hasn’t started high school yet. 

http://www.theatlanticwire.com/technology/2011/08/13-year-old-looks-trees-makes-solar-power-breakthrough/41486/