MEET THE 2016
CELEBRATING HIGH SCHOOL
INNOVATORS AWARD WINNERS!
“Deeply moved by the silent pandemic of cyberbulling, I decided to work to find an effective, meaningful solution to stop this hurting forever,” said Trisha Prabhu, creator of the mobile app ReThink. The app effectively stops cyberbullying before the damage is done. Potentially harmful messages are detected before they are posted on social media and messaging. Trisha’s research shows that when teenagers are alerted by ReThink to reconsider their decision to make a harmful post, they change their minds 93% of the time. Several programs address cyberbullying after the damage is done—and puts the burden on the victim to act—but this app is the first to proactively prevent cyberbullying. ReThink helps adolescents and kids become responsible digital citizens. The ReThink slogan has been adopted by hundreds of schools around the world as a tool to raise awareness about and to stop cyberbullying. ReThink is available for free on both Android and iOS devices.
Pranav Sivakumar and Paul Nebres have developed an automated method to efficiently identify gravitational lensing in quasars. In this method, light from a quasar is affected by one or more massive objects between the Earth and the quasar, resulting in multiple lensed images. This helps in deciphering dark energy and dark matter. Pranav and Paul, using data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), use their method to search for lensed quasars. Their automated algorithm combines both types of commonly collected data from SDSS to identify lensed quasar candidates and improves the accuracy and reliability of these candidates for follow-up observations. They were able to identify more than 100 lens candidates. Even more exciting, they were able to discover the lensed quasar SDSSJ2146-0047. This discovery was confirmed by Professor Adriano Agnello and his team at UCLA.
Nathan worked with fellow student Andrew Duncan to design a band saw that greatly reduces the risk of injury. Permanent rare earth magnets imbedded in work gloves activate a proximity reed switch on the saw, causing pneumatic shears to cut the blade, preventing injury to the operator. Their design also kills any momentum that the blade would have after being cut.
Any extra components to operate the system were mounted on the back of the saw case, so they stay clear of the cutting surface and don’t obstruct the operator. Their prototype consists of 27 parts that were added to the original band saw. They conducted research on patents, and found that there are some unique attributes to the design, making a potential patent claim possible.
Reece Johnson and Russell Smallwood, along with other students at their school, take battery powered riding toys and customize them to help children with their specific disabilities. For example, one riding buggy was modified for a child with Down Syndrome and decreased muscle tone. The buggy was modified so that it only moved forward when the child was in a standing position, motivating him to work on his balance and leg strength. Another riding toy was customized for a child that has difficulty with fine motor skills like pointing. A small button was installed that she has to point to and press, in order for the car to go. The group has created the Max’s Miles Foundation to continue providing this service: helping children with physical and mental disabilities to develop skills and explore their world.
Abinaya became aware that many of her peers quit playing instruments because they couldn’t afford to take music lessons. To address this issue, she created a non-profit music program called The Muzic Academy, which provides low-income students with the opportunity to take free private music lessons. Most of the instructors are high school students who are proficient in an instrument. The Muzic Academy charges for some lessons at a lower cost than what is typical in the area. However, all of the income is rolled back into the program to support low-income students with lessons, music books, and even instruments. The program currently has over 70 students and has expanded to cover 5 school districts. Abinaya says, “I want every student to feel the same way that I do when I pick up my instrument and know that music will always be there for them.”
- Atrazine Project, Adam Holzhauer and Jacob Jiles – Pontiac Township High School, Pontiac, IL
- Sumona Banerjee – Niles North High School, Skokie, IL
- Ethan Christopher – Wesclin High School, New Baden, IL
- Jeffrey Elem – Pontiac Township High School, Pontiac, IL
- Nina Galvez – University Laboratory High School, Urbana, IL (from Champaign, IL)
- Jasper Gilley – Homeschool, Glenview, IL
- Morgan Harris – Oswego East High School, Aurora, IL
- Bridget Johnson – Maine South High School, Park Ridge, IL
- Julia Kiely – Lyons Township High School, Western Springs, IL
- Charles Kotrba – Whitney M. Young Magnet High School, Chicago, IL
- Alexander and Graham Louthan – Jones College Prep, Chicago, IL
- Maine South Computer Science Club, Alpri Else and Sean Stapleton – Maine South Township High School, NIles, IL
- Ashley Meyer – Columbia High School, Columbia, IL
- Winston Michalak – Lycée Français de Chicago, Chicago, IL (from Evanston, IL)
- Ashley Niebruegge – Collinsville High School, Maryville, IL
- Kristen Schroeder – Iroquois West High School, Gilman, IL
- Scientific Flames, Eren Riviere-Celasun and Pierre Philbert – Lycée Français de Chicago, Chicago, IL
- Hannah Shaban – Aqsa School, Homer Glen, IL
- Sharmain Siddiqui – Niles North High School, Morton Grove, IL
- Jonathan SooHoo – University of Chicago Laboratory High School, Chicago, IL
- Nathan Sopt – West Leyden High School, Franklin Park, IL
- Shreya Thakkar – Prospect High School, Mt. Prospect, IL
- Two Girls and a Gear, Danielle Pawlowski and Hannah Maes – Downer’s Grove South High School, Naperville, IL
- Women in STEM Club, Caitlin Westerfield and Lucy Sattler – Evanston Township High School, Evanston, IL