Thursday, September 10, 2015

Science Fair Rock Star - Monique Hsu and Gina Wang

This is the first in an ongoing series highlighting some of the amazing young women participating in this year's Google Science Fair. (You can read the second one here.) Each has survived the rigorous regional rounds, and are awaiting the results of the final testing to see who will win this year's prizes. The results will be announced on September 21, 2015, and you can be sure I'll be watching!

As always, I am impressed with all the participants and their projects, but the nature of this blog is to highlight the stories of kickass women and girls, so I'm focusing on them for this series. Over the next week I will be sharing stories of many of these remarkable young women. Stay tuned!

Monique (Yo) Hsu and Gina (Jing-Tong) Wang are a pair of junior high school students with big ideas and big smarts to go with them. When these two childhood friends learned about the problem many in their area were experiencing with buying gas that had been diluted with other solvents, they put their heads together to figure out a test that would tell consumers exactly what it is they are buying.

In their science class, they'd learned how to differentiate between oils of varying quality, and got the idea to try to use the same method to test gasoline. The method used "knocking" -- tapping on a bottle of liquid and testing the changes in the sound. These little smarties figured out that each type of liquid would have a different signature, and thus, simply by testing the liquid they could determine if it was pure or adulterated.

They rigged up a testing unit by assembling a box with with soundproofing, including a place to hang the bottle, and a striker. By using a small microphone attached to their laptop, they could record the sound and analyse it, quickly and effectively. Through their rigorous testing, they were able to fine tune the device and give accurate results on not only gasoline, but also on wine and other liquids.

Their testing method could lead to improvements in science, of course, but also in the quality of life for many people around the world who have concerns about food safety.

These girls show us that scientific exploration is simply following your natural curiosity, and learning as much as you can about the world around you. According to Monique, "the world we live in is a combination of chemistry, lands and ocean, sky and clouds, houses and cars, even you and me... are all following the chemical rules, isn't that beautiful?"

When asked what advice they would give to others, both girls show the value of exploration. "Be curious. Use your smart brain to improve the world, and enjoy doing so of course," says Monique. And Gina reminds us, "If you get an idea, just try to test it out. If you have an interest in science, apply it to figure things out."

Great advice!

For more reading, please check out the Google for Education blog post about Monique and Gina.

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