How the Google Science Fair Girls Found Their Calling

What Women Really Think
July 14 2011 4:02 PM

How the Google Science Fair Girls Found Their Calling

Photograph by Andrew Federman/Google.

Earlier this week, the winners of this year’s inaugural Google Science Fair winners were announced. Besides some amazing science project, the three had one thing in common: They are all girls. I was lucky enough to speak to the three incredibly impressive young ladies: Shree Bose from Texas, the grand winner for age category 17-18; Naomi Shah from Oregon, 15-16 winner; and Lauren Hodge from Pennsylvania, winner of the 13-14 age category. Each weighed in on what it’s like to be a young science superstar.

Shree’s first science project was kind of a disaster. When she was in second grade, she participated in her school’s “Invention Convention.” Her project was gutsy: She wanted to find a way to entice kids to eat vegetables. Being her second grade self, she thought the green color was the reason that kids did not like their veggies. So, at the convention, she proudly presented a blue-food-color-stained, slightly withered spinach plant. Her peers and teachers laughed, but Shree decided that science was cool enough to stick with it.


Naomi discovered her love to science as a toddler while playing with Flubber at a local science museum. Other experiences she cited as formative to her science passion: During a chemistry class, she got to see her hand (protected in a solution!) covered in flames, without feeling a thing. A fan of watching things blow up, she also enjoyed launching rockets in Physics class. Had we known each other as kids, she would undoubtedly have been my hero.

Lauren’s interest in biology came young, too: At 5 years old, she asked her mother for a cadaver for Christmas. When her mother said that it was not possible, Lauren told her to order one on eBay. Her flabbergasted mother sent her to a center for gifted children, the Davidson Institute for Talent Development. It was at Davidson where, eight years later, she heard about the Google Science Fair and decided to apply.

All are still stunned by their victories. When the announcement came, the anxious contestants may have felt like they were in an odd game show. They watched photos of all finalists’ faces spin around on a massive screen, until, suddenly, three pictures popped up: theirs.

Shree won the Grand Prize with her insights to drug resistance in ovarian cancer; Naomi explored the link between air pollutants in respiratory diseases; and Lauren investigated how different marinating techniques can inhibit harmful heterocyclic amines in grilled chicken.

All three want to continue doing research. And they are ambitious, too. Naomi wants to see her environmental research implemented, even if that means that she has to do it herself. This spring, she sent her suggestions for revisions to the Clean Air Act to President Obama and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. She has not heard back. Yet.



Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore, and Schools Are Getting Worried

The Good Wife Is Cynical, Thrilling, and Grown-Up. It’s Also TV’s Best Drama.

  News & Politics
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
Brow Beat
Sept. 20 2014 3:21 PM “The More You Know (About Black People)” Uses Very Funny PSAs to Condemn Black Stereotypes
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 20 2014 7:00 AM The Shaggy Sun
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.