What is the average 14 year old girl interested in? Boys? Shopping? Justin Bieber’s next album? Tickets to the nest Twilight movie? Yeah, all those are valid choices for a young girl who has just hit puberty and is struggling with significant developmental challenges as well as peer pressure. However, there are some 14 year olds in the world who actually use all their natural youthful energy to good use and come up with things that can help the masses bypass easily avoidable diseases. Meet Deepika Kurup. She is just 14 and her submission to the 2012 edition of the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge has just earned herself the award of America’s Top Young Scientist.
The Nashua, New Hampshire-native participated in a summer mentoring program where she was guided by scientist at the St. Paul, Minnesota-based 3M Innovation Center to oversee the production of a project that would solve an everyday problem. Developing a concept into a prototype, Kurup created a water-purification system that is sustainable, cost effective, innovative and could help make drinking water clean and safe for over 1.1 billion people around the world!
The cheap and easy to put together system uses a system of zinc oxide and titanium oxide which, when exposed to sunlight, can catalyze and result into the generation of hydroxyl radicals. These radicals destroy E.Coli colonies and reduce coliform units while eliminating harmful bacteria in the water. To work, the system only needs to be exposed to sunlight which makes it effective for regions that don’t have access to grid power. Kurup has applied for a patent for her system and plans on using her $25,000 reward into creating a non-profit organization that can distribute her system globally.