Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?
Intel Education Science

Maryland Teen Wins World's Largest Science Fair 193

Velcroman1 writes "A Maryland student was awarded the top prize at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair on Friday for developing a urine and blood test that detects pancreatic cancer with 90 percent accuracy. Jack Andraka, 15, claimed the $75,000 prize for his test, which is roughly 28 times cheaper and faster, and over 100 times more sensitive than current tests. Each year, approximately 7 million high school students around the globe develop original research projects and present their work at local science fairs with the hope of winning."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Maryland Teen Wins World's Largest Science Fair

Comments Filter:
  • Who did the work? (Score:5, Informative)

    by vlm ( 69642 ) on Monday May 21, 2012 @03:09PM (#40068063)

    A Maryland student was awarded the top prize at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair on Friday for developing a urine and blood test that detects pancreatic cancer with 90 percent accuracy.

    Who did the work? I'm not thinking the kid did. He may have "developed" it in the same sense that modern americans talk about how they are "building a house" when they really mean cutting a check for someone else to build it.

    I'm thinking most of the list is "This is what my dad does at work and this is what they did while I watched them".

    Plausible projects that could actually be done by kids would be:

    "Euglena: The Solution to Nanosilver Pollution" Nothing too unobtainable here, nothing requiring a weird environment, clearly possible in a basement, or in my basement anyway.

    "Design and Creation of Small Wind-Power Engines for Low Wind Speeds Based on Magnus Effect" Totally designable and buildable by a kid, key word being "small" and "low speed"

    "Repelling Effect of Plant Extracts on Bees-A Study on Preventing Bees from Pesticide Toxicity" Plenty of normal civilians keep bees, at least in rural areas, coincidentally same place plants to extract and pesticides to sample also reside. Totally believable that a smart hard working kid could do this alone.

    "Effect of Food Types on Quantity and Nutritional Quality of Weaver Ant". Ants, we got em. Food, we got it too. Can we count? Yes we can. Sounds like good science doable by an actual kid.

    Implausible projects that could not have been done by kids:

    "A Study of the Endogenous Activity Rhythms of the Marine Isopod Exosphaeroma truncatitelson" Where does a kid get that and the testing environment necessary?

    "Analysis of Photon-Mediated Entanglement between Distinguishable Matter Qubits" Oh come on. Well I'll head on over to home depot and get a can of qubits on the way home from school, and then...

    "DNA Repair Mechanisms: Investigations of Base Excision Repair Pathway in Differentiated and Proliferative Neuronal CAD Cells" Oh come on. How big was the lab that did this work? 50 people and 10 million bucks of gear maybe?

    "Synthesis of Trimethylguanosine Cap Analogues with the Potential Use in Gene Therapy" Oh come on

    "Synthesis of Triazene Compounds and Their Application in Spectrophotometric Determination of Cadmium" Nobody's doing cadmium work outside a lab, at least without turning the basement into a "radioactive boyscout" situation. I would promote this to "possible" if and only if it were done as independent study at a high school chem lab.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 21, 2012 @03:17PM (#40068165)

    Jack Andraka
    Gordon E. Moore Award Winners

    Jack Andraka, 15, of Crownsville, Maryland, was awarded the Gordon E. Moore Award for his development of a new method to detect pancreatic cancer. Using an approach similar to that of diabetic test strips, Jack created a simple dip-stick sensor to test the level of mesothelin, a pancreatic cancer biomarker, in blood or urine, to determine whether or not a patient has early-stage pancreatic cancer. His study resulted in over 90 percent accuracy in detecting the presence of mesothelin. Further, his novel patent-pending sensor proved to be 28 times faster, 28 times less expensive and over 100 times more sensitive than current tests.

    This is something easily done by a high-school student (the hard work is determining what to test for and that can be done by a literature search) and , yes he did apply for a patent.

  • by Caratted ( 806506 ) on Monday May 21, 2012 @03:19PM (#40068179)

    His study resulted in over 90 percent accuracy and showed his patent-pending sensor to be 28 times faster, 28 times less expensive and over 100 times more sensitive than current tests.


  • by Nemyst ( 1383049 ) on Monday May 21, 2012 @03:49PM (#40068565) Homepage

    If you do a bit of digging, you can find the full abstract: []

    The choice quote here is:
    "Optimal layering was determined using a scanning electron microscope."

    I'm sorry, but as a high school student, there's no way I'd have access to that kind of gear. Further, the rest of the abstract includes things which could only be performed with rather specific tools. Reading precision to the nmol/L? My high school barely had beakers.

    I'm not saying the individual steps are impossible to do as a teenager, just that having all the tools available and the knowledge to perform the steps would be extremely improbable. As with most incredible claims, I always tend to be skeptical.

  • Re:Congratulations. (Score:5, Informative)

    by pkinetics ( 549289 ) on Monday May 21, 2012 @03:53PM (#40068617)
    Science News Arcticle []

    Searching for a better detector for mesothelin, Andraka coated paper with tiny tubes of atom-thick carbon. Antibodies stuck to the carbon nanotubes can grab the telltale protein and spread the tubes apart. The carbon’s resistance to the flow of electricity drops measurably as more protein attaches. Tests of the paper using blood samples from 100 people with cancer at different stages of the disease identified the presence of cancer every time, Andraka reported.

  • Re:Congratulations. (Score:4, Informative)

    by westlake ( 615356 ) on Monday May 21, 2012 @03:55PM (#40068655)

    How did he even get access to pancreatic cancer urine samples?

    Jack Andraka is a high school research intern at The Sol Goldman Pancreatic Cancer Research Center, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland. The lab of Anirban Maitra, Associate Professor of Pathology and Oncology. Four students honored at INBT research symposium [] [NanoBioTechnology]

    A MathMovesU Middle School Scholarship winner, Jack Andraka of Crownsville, Md., rode his way to a $1,000 campership courtesy of Raytheon to camp Awesome Math, where he can hone his problem-solving skills with students from around the world. Jack wrote about his love of mountain biking for Raytheon's MathMovesU Middle School Scholarship and Grant Program, which honors students and teachers who are passionate about science, technology, engineering and math.

    Jack Andraka: Math and Mountain Biking Create Eureka Moment []

    I-SWEEEP 2010 Special Awards [] [Certificate of Achievement and Office of Naval Research Medallion]

  • Re:90% is useless (Score:4, Informative)

    by KarrdeSW ( 996917 ) on Monday May 21, 2012 @03:59PM (#40068727)
    The point is not that it's a definitive test, the point that it's a reasonably accurate blood and urine test. As in, after discussing recent problems with your doctor, your doctor may then conclude that this would be a good time to stick you with a biopsy needle and test for pancreatic cancer.

    But wait, this is invasive and potentially harmful, is there some way we can be a bit more sure about things before we confirm?

    Why yes! This kid developed a blood and urine test which is 90% accurate!

    The point is to potentially reduce the number of large, expensive needles stuck into someone's pancreas, not to serve as a standalone test.

    It also matters WHY the test is inaccurate. If it's consistent with each individual "if I get a false positive, it will ALWAYS be a false positive" because of a lack of a certain protein or whatever, then it's less useful (unless you determine the conditions that make it work). If it's actually just a random 10% due to lack of precision for a particular measurement, then it can be refined, OR you could just run it five times and do some math to get a result with >90% accuracy.

  • Re:Congratulations. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Stargoat ( 658863 ) * <> on Monday May 21, 2012 @04:03PM (#40068775) Journal

    It's one thing to pull yourself up from the bootstraps if you're born uppermiddle class. It's another if you're born lower class. There's a strong argument that it's easier today to move up the social ladder in Europe than the United States. [] This is appalling.

  • Re:Congratulations. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Chazerizer ( 934553 ) on Monday May 21, 2012 @04:43PM (#40069295)
    Actually, all of this is disclosed at the fair. Any student working in a high-end research lab (or frankly, any place more advanced than your standard high school lab) is required to submit forms signed by the head of said institutions and detail the size and scope of the involvement of the lab. This includes graduate student mentors, access to equipment, and other information.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo.