Teen scientists send their experiment to space
What do two bright 16-year-old girls think of when they imagine outer space? That sending bacteria out there may improve its ability to fight germs, of course.
Dorothy Chen and Sara Ma from Troy, Mich., won the YouTube Space Lab competition that encouraged kids around the globe to come up with cool science experiments to be conducted in space. The duo will get to see their idea come to life 250 miles above Earth aboard the International Space Station, and they’ll watch as their experiment is live-streamed on YouTube, thanks to Lenovo.
The ladies heard about the contest through the Biology Competition Club at their high school.
“We were just researching the effects of micro-gravity and space exploration,” Sara explains, “when we came across an article about a Salmonella experiment. We thought that if bacteria could be grown to be more dangerous, can't it also be grown to be more helpful? And presto! Our experiment was born.”
Basically, the pair decided to send bacteria into space to see if it became more active. They think it will—and if they’re right, that means that their experiment could help scientists find ways to reduce the spread of major diseases.
Dorothy and Sara—who both love music, art and color guard—are passionate about linking science with creativity, which they say is “essential” to solving problems. Why? Because “science and creativity are both ways of looking at the world in a new perspective in order to learn or create something new,” Sara says.
One of the toughest obstacles for young female scientists to overcome is gender stereotyping. “Some people assume girls aren't as ambitious, experienced or affirmative as boys,” Sara says. Winning this international competition felt doubly good, the girls add, because they were proving these stereotypes wrong.
And their top-dog prize isn’t too bad, either. Both girls got to experience a zero-gravity flight…and are heading to Japan to watch their experiment be launched into space.
“I'm excited just thinking about it,” Sara says. “A part of us—something that Dorothy and I created from scratch—will be orbiting us high about the atmosphere.”
Interested in dabbling in the realm of science? Well, start takin’ a look around ya.
“Science, quite literally, is everywhere,” Dorothy says. “If you find something you like, and learn about the science behind it, you're bound to start seeing the value and the fun in science.”
“Start asking questions about the world,” Sara advises. “Wwhy do you have to wear gloves when bleaching? Why does your heart beat faster when you're nervous? When you're curious, you able to find what you like learning most about.”
But most of all, don’t ever give up—that’s one thing both girls absolutely agree on.
Wanna learn more about Dorothy, Sara and their prize-winning science project? Watch the video below!