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These Incredible Teens From the 2014 Google Science Fair Will Change the World

These Incredible Teens From the 2014 Google Science Fair Will Change the World

The Google Science Fair is an annual competition open to teens around the world. The competition seeks to encourage young innovators, as well look for new solutions for current problems. Bringing together students of all different backgrounds, the projects found here are truly some of the best in the world. Not only are these students inspiring, they uncover some of the most forward-thinking approaches to world issues. The following 15 competitors showcase the best of what young scientists are bringing to the table.

Accident Detection and Location System

Rohan Chacko, 14, Soham Basu, 14, United Arab Emirates

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    The accident detection and location system is a small prototype that transmits information to emergency response units. By instantly communicating where an accident takes place, the response times for emergency vehicles are significantly reduced. This Google Science Fair device, and devices like it, stands to greatly improve emergency care around the world.

    Electricity Harvesting Footwear

    Angelo Casimiro, 16, The Philippines

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      This forward-thinking teen from the Philippines takes a new approach to capturing electricity at the Google Science Fair. The innovative device explores power-producing insoles for shoes. Devices like this one could potentially be implemented to reduce strain on city power grids, or even provide electricity in remote areas.

      A Modular House to Initiate Efficient Usage of Resources

      Dev Shaurya Singhal, 14, India

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        Another admirable teen from India created this incredible house design that is hugely energy efficient. This house makes use of MFC (Microbial Fuel Cell) and MEC (Microbial Electrolysis Cell) chips to produce electricity and treat wastewater. Not only does this give homeowners free resources, it could bring a powerful, practical way to reduce environmental impact to everyday people.

        Technology for Processing Foliage Plastic Bottles and Wastepaper Into Paper

        Aleksandr Orchenko, 14, Christina Ruzina, 14, Alexander Zakharov, 14, Russia

        These three Russian youngsters found a way to produce medium-grade paper from recycled wastepaper, leaves, and plastic bottles. As the world struggles to slow deforestation, as well as absorb sky high numbers of discarded plastic bottles, this technology could offer serious solutions for a more sustainable future.

        The Therenim: A Touchless Respiratory Monitor

        Eswar Anandapadmanaban, 16, United States

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          This talented 16-year-old Google Science Fair competitor sought to solve the problem of invasive respiratory monitors. This new device monitors breathing without wires or electrodes. A device with the potential to simplify an obtrusive, yet necessary healthcare test, this project could change the healthcare industry for the better.

          Utilization of Solar Energy by Making Solar Water Sprinkler

          Sadineni Shashank, 14, India

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            This ingenious small sprinkler relies on solar energy to run. By creating a fully automated sprinkler that needs no outside power, this device will undoubtedly cut down on wasted energy, plus could improve agriculture in remote areas. Not only that, the sprinklers can run on battery power when it’s not sunny and automatically detect when your crops have enough water.

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            Intelligent Power Switching Device With an Energy Saving Protocol

            Weitung Chen, 15, Taiwan

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              This innovative design improves the energy-saving protocol of consumer devices. By adding real-time polling technology, this Fair entry can save standby power and is fully automatic. Devices like this one could potentially greatly expand the battery life in our handheld technology, as well as devices in use in health and rescue industries.

              Identification of Gravitationally Lensed Quasars

              Pranav Sivakumar, 14, United States

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                This talented 14-year-old developed a new method to identify gravitationally lensed quasars. Quasars are deep space energetic objects that are crucial to our understanding of the universe. The lens distortion improves our ability to interpret the universe around us, and may lead to further discoveries in the study of the night sky. By using a unique algorithm, images of quasars can be compared to their neighbors to determine if we are cataloguing one star as two.

                Breaking the Age Barrier

                Mythri Ambatipudi, 13, United States

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                  This brilliant 13-year-old discovered possible treatments for the chemical reactions that cause major life-threatening diseases. These diseases include atherosclerosis, cancer, Alzheimer’s and diabetic neuropathy, nephropathy and retinopathy, which are caused by advanced glycation end-products, or AGE reactions. By sourcing natural solutions that inhibit AGE formation, this teen may be on the path to revolutionizing medical science.

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                  A Simple Method for Simultaneous Wastewater Treatment and Chemical Recovery Using Temperature and Pressure Changes

                  Andrew Ma, 17, United States

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                    This Google Science Fair project from 17-year-old Andrew Ma seeks to make waste water treatment more affordable. This unique approach treats waste water but also recovers chemicals from the water. This new apparatus allows water purification inside your home, but also is a viable alternative to the energy-intensive synthesis of some chemicals.

                    Winners

                    Natural Bacteria Combating World Hunger

                    Ciara Judge, 16, Émer Hickey, 16, Sophie Healy-Thow, 16, Ireland

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                      These three impressive youngsters from Ireland found that using a strain of bacteria helped certain crops to grow. The three girls studied the bacterium’s effect on wheat, oats, and barley, and found that treated crops germinated up to 50% faster. In barley, they increased the crop yield by 74%. Such a simple way to catapult the amount of food we can capture from each plant may eventually help fight hunger around the world. Additionally, this project identifies future ways we could reduce the use of harmful fertilizers.

                      Cleaning Up Oil Sands Waste

                      Hayley Todesco, 17, Canada

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                        This impressive 17-year-old from Canada found a renewable and reliable way to reduce harmful waste in the Canadian oil sands. One of the larger sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the world, the Canadian oil sands constantly pollute the surrounding areas. By using newly designed sand filters, this science fair winner was 14 times more efficient in reducing acid concentrations and biofilm production than current cleanup methods. This could be hugely effective in keeping the environment clean at oil refinery sites around the world.

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                        Fruit Fly Inspired Flying Robots

                        Mihir Garimella, 14, United States

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                          Around the world, flying robots are currently used in a multitude of settings. Most of which require flying robots to respond to real-time threats. While current flying robots are bulky and somewhat ineffective, this outstanding 14-year-old from the United States designed a lightweight sensor module based on fruit flies’ visual system. He then created algorithms to mimic a fruit fly’s flying trajectory, enabling these robots to evade threats better than ever before.

                          Wearable Sensors for Aging Society

                          Kenneth Shinozuka, 15, United States

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                            Another Google Science Fair winner invented a small, low-cost sensor to monitor aging patients in care homes and hospitals. The device causes an alert on a caregiver’s smart phone by sensing a patient’s shifting bodyweight. This coin-sized sensor relies on Bluetooth Low Energy and a companion app to make caregivers less stressed and more effective.

                            Converting Breath to Speech for the Disabled

                            Arsh Dilbagi, 16, India

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                              The final winner of the Google Science Fair is Arsh Dilbagi for developing an augmentation and alternative communication device that translates breathing patterns into speech. The device has two modes, allowing patients to either spell or select phrases. Current devices letting people with developmental disabilities speak cost upwards of $1000, but this device can be produced for under US$100. Not only that, this device increases a patient’s speech rate by at least 300%.

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                              Alicia Prince

                              A writer, filmmaker, and artist who shares about lifestyle tips and inspirations on Lifehack.

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                              Last Updated on July 17, 2019

                              The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

                              The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

                              What happens in our heads when we set goals?

                              Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

                              Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

                              According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

                              Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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                              Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

                              Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

                              The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

                              Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

                              So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

                              Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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                              One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

                              Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

                              Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

                              The Neurology of Ownership

                              Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

                              In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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                              But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

                              This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

                              Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

                              The Upshot for Goal-Setters

                              So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

                              On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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                              It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

                              On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

                              But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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                              Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

                              Reference

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