Teen science wizz represents Africa at Google Science Fair

Google Science Fair

The Google Science Fair claims to be the biggest online science fair in the world. It’s tagline “90 ways to change the world,” represents the 90 regional finalists of 2013. Among these, are 16-year-old South African Samantha Heyward who explores the pros and cons of Body Mass Index (BMI) calculation and a Kenyan team which looks if heat and tomatoes can produce electricity.

Google’s annual Science Fair aims to encourage young scientists and innovators between the ages of 13 and 18 across the globe. Through initiatives like these, Google attempts to foster the “next generation of scientists and engineers.” Among the 90 regional finalists of 2013 are Heyward and a Kenyan team that includes Himanshi Sehgal, Souparni Roy and Richa Nagda.

Heyward’s study explores whether BMI methods refer to Body Mass Index or simply a “Belgian Mathematician’s Invention?” Heyward started this project to show the “downfalls and merits of BMI, why its accuracy is questionable, and possible improvements.” Her skeptical approach to understanding and improving the World Health Organisation’s standard method of measuring bodily health aims to take her through to the finals coming 27 June. If she’s one of the lucky 15 she’ll be flown to Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, California for the last round of judging.

The Kenyan team, on the other hand, falls under the Science in Action category that will award US$50 000 to a project that makes a practical difference by addressing an environmental, health or resources challenge. Sehgal, Roy and Nagda explore the following interesting question: Can heat and tomatoes produce electricity? This out-of-the-box experiment sees if electricity can be created through the transformation of solar energy into steam.

In partnership with CERN, the LEGO Group, National Geographic and Scientific American, Google’s looking for the next young Alexander Graham Bell. Previous winners include young innovators who wanted to find solutions for issues such as the early diagnosis of breast cancer, improving the experience of listening to music for people with hearing loss and cataloguing the ecosystem found in water. Be sure to stay on the look out for these inspirational young innovators 27 June.



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