Girls Changing Science
Reported January 2011
COLLEGE PARK, MD (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Think of a stereotypical scientist and the first thing that comes to mind is an old man with fuzzy white hair and a lab coat. But what if I told you that's all wrong and that age is just a number in the world of science?
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Claire Dworsky is a typical 9-year-old, but what she found out on the soccer field is making history.
"I like testing out things and finding out the truth," Claire Dworsky, a kid scientist, told Ivanhoe.
Claire was the youngest scientist presenting her research at the "American Geophysical Union" meeting. She scored an invite after a startling discovery in her hometown soccer field.
"When I looked down, the ground was murky, so I wanted to test it out with science and I went on a kids science challenge," Claire said.
Claire was curious about the difference in the quality of water running through turf versus natural grass. With the help of earth scientist and Oceanographer, Adina Paytan, Claire launched the largest study of its kind. She found the chemicals in the runoff water of both fields, sometimes exceeded recommended levels set by the Environmental Protection Agency.
"Mostly I was impressed with the fact that the project stemmed from her own observation, from her own encounter with the surroundings," Adina Paytan, an Oceanographer at UC Santa Cruz, in California, said.
"You shouldn't put the grass or the turf near water because it can cause ultrafication, which is when it causes a dead zone and it can kill aquatic life," Clare said.
Another stand out is fourth grader Olivia Smith-Donovan.
"My mom made me keep a journal of any ideas I had," Olivia said.
Such an idea landed Olivia first place at the 2010 Kid's Science Challenge for Bio-inspired design. She's helping to create a model big enough to be used to drop emergency packages from great heights. She was inspired by maple tree seeds, which twirl around as they fall to the ground. She teamed up with Engineers at the University of Maryland to create a prototype.
"We had no idea that a paper tree was actually going to stick to the original plan and spin, but we were all kind of surprised when it actually worked," Olivia said.
Olivia and Claire are just two of the young, great minds shaping the world today, one idea, one challenge, and many possibilities. For Claire's mom, it's just that simple.
"Take a couple of minutes and dinner will wait, it's important to indulge their curiosity," Deana Hodgin, Claire's mother, said.
The National Kids Science Challenge is a nationwide annual competition for third to sixth graders. The winner gets to pair up with a scientist and see their ideas come alive. For more information on how to be part of this experience you can visit www.kidsciencechallenge.com.
The American Geophysical contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.
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Institute of Marine Sciences
University of California, Santa Cruz
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