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Girls come first at Google Science Fair

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Summary of story from The New York Times, July 18, 2011

Girls came first in all three age categories at the Google Science Fair this week.

Shree Bose, 17, tackled ovarian cancer and that research won her the grand prize and $50,000.

She has been inventing since she was in 2nd grade, when she worked out how to make spinach blue. In fourth grade, she made a remote controlled garbage can, and in eighth grade, a railroad tie made from recycled plastic and granite dust.

Her winning entry looked at how to stop ovarian cancer cells becoming resistant to the chemotherapy drug, cisplatin.

She worked out that introducing the protein, AMPK, reduced cisplatin’s effectiveness if combined with it at the beginning of treatment, but maintains it if introduced later on when the cancer cells are beginning to become resistant.

She came first not only in her age category (17-18) but was awarded best of show over all as well.

The winner of the 15 to 16 age group was Naomi Shah who studied the effects of air quality on lungs, in particular those of people with asthma.

Lauren Hodge won the 13 to 14 age category with her research into whether marinades reduce the amount of cancer causing compounds produced by grilling meat.

Vint Cerf, Google’s chief Internet evangelist, made clear that the judging was entirely gender-neutral, but that he was secretly pleased with the results.

He said that it is ‘just a reminder that women are fully capable of doing same or better quality work than men can’.

The gender split amongst finalists was fairly even, with nine out of 15 being boys. The US dominated the event, though, with 60% of entries from American students, and three quarters of finalists from the US.

All three age group winners were American.

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