Winners Announced for Siemens Foundation’s Annual High School Science Competition

December 5, 2011 -

A teen from Cupertino, California has won a $100,000 science prize for research on cancer stem cells and two teens from Oak Ridge, Tennessee won the top team honor for using a video game to conduct research on the science of walking to benefit amputees who rely on prosthetics. The 17-year-old, Angela Zhang, won the top honors at the Siemens Foundation’s annual high school science competition. The top team prize went to two students from Oak Ridge, Tennessee, for their research using gaming technology to analyze motion while walking. The 17-year-olds, Cassee Cain and Ziyuan Liu, will share a $100,000 scholarship.

Zhang said her research was partly motivated by her family - her great grandfather had liver cancer and her grandfather died of lung cancer when she was in seventh grade. Naturally she wanted to know more about how cancer affects the body. The particle she designed apparently improves on current cancer treatments because it delivers a drug directly to tumor cells and doesn’t affect the healthy cells around it. The particle can also release a drug when activated by a stimulus such as a laser. For now it's just an idea, but it's a good one and has the potential to be developed into a real-world treatment that can help those suffering from cancer.

Cain and Liu were inspired by video game technology like Kinect that is used to track a person’s movements for various types of games such as dancing, sports and fitness. The pair developed software that uses the technology to analyze the way a person walks, with the goal ultimately being that the technology can be used someday to help people who wear prosthetic limbs improve their walking. Currently, people who have prosthetic limbs generally have to travel to labs to get that kind of help, but Cain and Liu say that because their software uses readily available technology it could be more widely used and also taken to developing countries.

The runners-up in the team and individual competitions went home with $50,000 scholarships. Second place in the individual competition was awarded to Brian Kim of New York, who studied ways to more efficiently pack objects into a space, while the second-place team winners were Edgar Wang, Wayne Shu and Justin Yuan of Troy, Michigan, whose research could help treat Alzheimer’s disease and stroke.

Six individuals and six teams competed for the awards.

Source: Washington Post

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