Maanasa Mendu wins America’s top Young Scientist award

A 13-year-old ninth grader from Mason, OH has won the 2016 Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge in St. Paul, MN. Maanasa Mendu won $25,000 and the title of “America’s Top Young Scientist” immediately following a live competition Tuesday, October 18 at the 3M Innovation Center in St. Paul.

Nine other finalists from across the country competed in the scientist challenge, which paired the students with 3M scientists to develop practical inventions. Rohan Wagh of Portland, OR, a ninth grader at Sunset High School, who received second place for his invention that utilizes the natural metabolism of bacteria to create energy;

Mendu, a student at William Mason High School in the Mason City School District, created Harvest, a bio-inspired energy device that uses solar and wind power to create energy. This innovation was inspired by a visit to India where she discovered many people lacking basic life necessities, such as clean water and lighting.

Through her invention, Mendu hopes to provide a globally applicable, cost-effective energy source. Mendu’s approach reflected the competition’s goal of applying science to everyday life, creating a solution that may improve lives and strengthen communities around the globe.

Over the past three months, Mendu and the nine other finalists had the opportunity to work with a 3M scientist to develop their personal inventions as part of a summer mentorship program. Mendu was paired with Margaux Mitera, a 3M senior product development engineer whose research has helped 3M develop new Post-it Note products.

During the final competition hosted by Discovery Education Vice President Lance Rougeux, the finalists presented their completed inventions to a respected panel of scientists and leaders from both Discovery Education and 3M, including honorary guest judge Trace Dominguez, who’s producer, writer and host of Discovery’s DNews program.

“Each year, the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge reminds us of the inspiring ingenuity that results when we empower our youngest generation to apply science, critical thinking and creativity to solve real world problems,” Bill Goodwyn, president and CEO of Discovery Education, said in a statement.

The remaining nine finalists also received prizes from Discovery Education and 3M. Second through fourth place winners each received $1,000 and a trip to a taping of a show on Discovery’s family of networks. Mendu hopes that her invention will provide a globally applicable, cost-effective energy source.

The competition’s goal was to apply science to everyday life, creating a solution that may improve lives and strengthen communities around the globe, and Mendu’s approach reflected the goal.

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