Some young minds with new ideas have competed in a worldwide competition to win the Google Science Fair 2012. Last year, Google kicked off the first of its science fairs and it was a sweeping success. Thousands of youth, ages 13-18, competed. This year was no exception. Last night, Google announced the winners of its 2012 competition and the projects were pretty impressive.
The grand prize winner this year was Brittany Wenger, a 17 year old from Lakewood Ranch, Fla. Her project was titled “Global Neural Network Cloud Service for Breast Cancer“. She developed a cloud based system to aid in the diagnosis of breast cancer. In the project she pointed out the that Fine Needle Aspirates (FNAs) are the least invasive way to biopsy for breast cancer, however, they are often difficult for doctors to read making it hard to come to any conclusive diagnosis. The system she developed uses an artificial neural network that can see patterns too difficult for the human eye. She used an FNA database from the University of Wisconsin to help in the determination of whether the tumor was malignant or benign. The network was tested with 6800 trials and achieved predictive success of 97.4% with 99.1% sensitivity to malignancy.
The event was co-sponsored by Lego, National Geographic, CERN, and Scientific American. The grand prize winner got a $50,000 scholarship from Google and the chance to go on a National Geographic expedition to the Galapagos. They were also awarded the opportunity to intern at one of the sponsors companies, as well as many other prizes. Below, you can see the award presentation ceremony that was streamed live from Google last night.
It gives me great encouragement to see young people involved in such groundbreaking and relevant work. It goes to show that age doesn’t have to be a boundary for achievement. Google is already gearing up for next year’s event. If you or someone you know would like to sign up for next year’s Google Science Fair, go to http://www.google.com/events/sciencefair/signup2013.html for more information.