girls take top prizes at google science competition

Girls rock! This week, a trio of girls swept the top prizes at the Google Science Fair, a global competition for teenagers spanning sciences as diverse as computer engineering, space exploration and medical technology: First-Place Sweep by American Girls at First Google Science Fair.

More than 10,000 students from 91 countries entered the science fair. The entries, submitted over the web, were narrowed down to 60 semifinalists and then 15 finalists who presented their findings to judges at Google headquarters.

The winners included Shree Bose of Fort Worth, Texas and Naomi Shah of Portland, Oregon. Shree's research, which won the 17-18 age category and best of show overall, tackled ovarian cancer:
For the winning research Ms. Bose looked at a chemotherapy drug, cisplatin, that is commonly taken by women with ovarian cancer. The problem is that the cancer cells tend to grow resistant to cisplatin over time, and Ms. Bose set out to find a way to counteract that.

She found the answer in a cellular energy protein known as AMPK, or adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase. She observed that when AMPK was paired with cisplatin at the beginning of treatment the combination diminished the effectiveness of cisplatin. But added later on, when the cancer cells were growing resistant, the AMPK worked to maintain the effectiveness of cisplatin, allowing it to continue killing the malignant cells, at least in cell cultures.
Naomi's research studied the effects of air quality on lungs:
"At the end, we were like, 'Yeah, girl power!'" said Naomi Shah of Portland, Ore., who won the age 15-16 category with a study of the effects of air quality on lungs, particularly for people who have asthma. Ms. Shah recruited 103 test subjects, performed 24-hour air quality measurements at their homes and workplaces and had each blow into a device that measured the force of their breath.
What a kickass group of girls. I've never been particularly good at math or science, so I'm always kind of astounded to hear about young people demonstrating such an advanced understanding of concepts that are waaaay over my head. By the way, am I seeing things, or are the Science Fair trophies made from Legos?

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