Meet Asia’s young science stars

[Cross posted from Official Google APAC blog]

Did you know that corn cobs can be used to purify water? Or that you can tell if a bottle of gasoline has been tampered with by listening to the sound it makes when you tap it?  These are just some of the unconventional and potentially life-changing discoveries that teens from Asia will be taking to the finals of this year’s Google Science Fair

Of the 20 global finalists, six students from across Asia will head to our headquarters in California next month to pitch their projects to a panel of notable international scientists and scholars. Meet some of these young scientists and get to know their impressive projects, one of which will be awarded with a US$50,000 scholarship on September 21:  

Purifying water with corn cobs
Lalita Srisai’s project came about after drilling a hole through a corn cob, pouring some dirty water into it, and discovering that the cob could absorb the pollutants and purify the water.  After some more testing, 13-year-old Lalita learned that corn cobs can also absorb chemicals and detergents. She now wants to use corn cobs from agricultural waste to filter water for villages near her home in Odisha, India.

This isn’t the first time Lalita has been recognized for innovation with corn cobs. She won the Fancy Dress prize in nursery school for this excellent costume, and corn has been one of her favorite vegetables since.  

Knocking over the underground gasoline market
After learning about the underground gasoline market at school, 14-year-old Monique Hsu and 13-year-old Gina Wang from Taiwan wanted to find a simple way to identify whether fuel had been tampered with. Once they discovered that different kinds of liquids produce distinct sound patterns, they created their “knock on fuel” prototype to help identify knock-off gasoline.

Monique Hsu and Gina Wang from Taiwan

Navigating 3D spaces more easily with magnets
Fellow Taiwanese student, 16-year-old Wei-Tung Chen, discovered a new way to calculate the position of an object in a 3D space quickly and with great accuracy, and by using a single source. You can learn more about the technology in his “magnetic positioning sphere” here, and how it has the potential to be used to develop future wearables and in applications which require instant and accurate 3D positioning, such as navigating firefighters in indoor rescue efforts.

Supercharging batteries…
18-year-old Singaporean Zhilin Wang has come up with a fast and affordable way to charge renewable energy batteries, making life easier for people who live in places without reliable electricity. 79% of families in third world countries do not have access to power. By making lighting more accessible to them, Zhilin hopes many more kids will be able to learn to read and do their homework at night.

... and study
Also from Singapore, 17-year-old Girish Kumar has developed “RevUp”, a tool that automatically generates multiple-choice questions out of online texts. The idea behind this is to help reinforce what students learn inside the classroom and to save teachers time preparing revision materials. Click on the video below to see how easy it is to start studying for your next exam:

Congratulations to our inspiring Asian finalists and good luck at the finals! You can read more about our finalists in our spotlight series.

Posted by Andrea Cohan, Google Science Fair Program Manager