Iris Gupta knows something about how necessity is the mother of invention. Inspired by a friend’s terrible peanut allergy and her own problems with cats, the 12-year-old Maryland resident brought some critical thinking to the issue of allergies. The resulting project landed her a spot as one of 10 finalists at the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge earlier this month.
The Challenge is a nationwide competition for middle schoolers interested in science. The grand prize is $25,000 and an “adventure trip.”
Gupta’s anti-allergy project was all about stopping allergy symptoms before they start, rather than simply treating them once they’ve arrived. To do that, the sixth grader proposed injecting or inhaling gold nanoparticles to block histamines that are released when a body comes in contact with an allergen. If the nanoparticles can stop the release, they can alleviate reactions before they begin. The idea still needs to be tested, but Gupta’s mentor in the competition, 3M scientist Raha Been, told The Washington Post that she was impressed.
“Allergies really affect the quality of life that people have. It’s really important to see the passion that Iris has for solving a problem that can really impact people’s lives,” Been said.
[h/t Business Insider]