March 14, 2012

The “Real” American Idol

How these teens are changing the world.

Scott: They are young, smart and innovative. The forty 2012 finalists competing in Intel’s Science Talent Search came from all over the country. But this isn’t your average cafeteria science fair. Yeah, there are no exploding volcano models. The 1,900 contestants presented their own scientific research and technology ideas. But it was 17-year-old Nithin Tumma from Fort Gratiot, Michigan who earned top honors. Nithin came up with ideas for a more targeted and less toxic treatment for breast cancer.

Nithin Tumma: I think I’m really inspired by the questions. The ones that don’t necessarily have answers. In research, when your trying to ask the questions, you don’t know if they even have answers or if you’re on the right track. So that element of unknown is exciting to me.

Scott: The prize for first place is exciting too — a $100,000 scholarship! And his work could help millions fight cancer. Did I mention he is still in high school?

Nithin: I feel like all the major breakthroughs came from thinking about a problem in a new way. So, I think imagination is how we tackle new things. Knowledge is easy to come by. Read a book get knowledge. But imagination is the driving force between progress.

Scott: This 70-year-old science competition has no shortage of imagination.

Other top ranking projects involved the night migration and movement of birds to tiny motors and even new ways to see farther into space.

These students all join a pretty impressive roster of past finalists including seven Nobel Prize winners, and Oscar best actress winner Natalie Portman, who was an Intel semi finalist.

All these students are excited about their chance to affect the world through math and science, and they say you are never too young.

Student: Science is really about creativity, coming up with ideas you want to solve, that you want to know more about. It’s not just plugging into an equation.

Student: Even a high school student can work on cancer research and things like that.

Student: You know that you’re changing something to make the world better.

Scott: Scott Evans, Channel One News


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