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Prabhakar named Thermo Fisher Scientific national finalist

MADISON – Nikita Prabhakar, an eighth-grader at Discovery Middle School, has been selected as a finalist in the prestigious science competition, Thermo Fisher Scientific Junior Innovators Challenge.

The Society for Science, a nonprofit organization founded in 1921, sponsors the challenge. The society has been dedicated to expanding scientific literacy, access to STEM education and research for 100-plus years.

The Innovators Challenge intends to inspire young scientists, engineers and innovators who will solve the future’s great challenges.

A nationwide panel of scientists, engineers and educators chose Prabhakar and 29 other finalists from a pool of the Top 300 Junior Innovators announced in early September.

The Junior Innovator students represent interesting statistics:

* More than half of this year’s finalists are female.

* The top project category is engineering.

* The finalists come from 12 states, led by California, Texas and Georgia.

* More than half of the finalists attend public school.

Prabhakar won the Thermo Fisher Scientific Junior Innovators Challenge for the state of Alabama, advanced to national-level competition and emerged in the Top 30 finalists with her work, “A Non-Invasive Integrated Sensor for Monitoring Menorrhagia.”

The work for her Junior Innovators project began when Prabhakar learned about a friend of her family who has the condition, endometriosis (or a disorder that causes tissue, similar to the uterus’s inner lining, to grow outside the uterus. The results include pelvic pain and an irregular menstrual cycle. – msn.com).

Prabhakar discovered that the condition can cause menorrhagia (or heavy menstrual flow that continues more than one week with severe cramping – bing.com). After studying the subject, Prabhakar learned that physicians depend primarily on charts to determine loss of period blood. This procedure is not objective and can be incorrect, she said. (according to a report by Kate Norum with WAFF-48 News).

“I then came up with the idea of integrating sensors with sanitary pads that can automatically measure the actual blood loss,” Prabhakar said.

The finalists will attend the Thermo Fisher JIC Finals Week in Washington D.C. from Oct. 28 to Nov. 2. Judges will evaluate their scientific research, along with the students’ demonstration of collaboration and critical thinking skills during team challenges.

Last year as a seventh-grader, Prabhakar was enrolled in teacher Scott Smith’s “Science and Green Architecture” class.

For a complete list of finalists, visit https://www.societyforscience.org/jic/2023-finalists/.

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