Scottsdale teens selected as finalists in Google’s Science Fair

Google and Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane have announced two 16-year-old Scottsdale teenagers, Divya Vatsa and Aakanksha Saxena, have been selected from among thousands of students hailing from more than 90 countries as regional finalists in the 2015 Google Science Fair competition.

The Google Science Fair is the largest online science fair in the world, offering students ages 13-18 the opportunity to pursue their interest and passion in science and technology.

Divya Vatsa

Divya Vatsa

Ms. Vatsa’s project is titled, “Gender Equality in the Digital Age.” She conducted a study which sought to identify the efficacy of social media in influencing perceptions of gender equality, specifically among young adults, and thereby mobilize the future generation to achieve a gender-equitable society.

“Gender equality is the key to progress in our society. Winning [the Google Science Fair] would not only encourage me to continue my fight for gender equality, but it would give me hope that my dreams of a gender-equitable future can one day become a reality,” stated Ms. Vatsa in a press release.

Ms. Saxena was selected for her project, “Influence of Contaminants on the Optical Properties of FeS2, a New Candidate for Photovoltaic Cells.” To provide some background information on her project, solar power is an important clean and sustainable energy source. Currently, since semiconducting materials used to make photovoltaic cells are toxic, expensive, and have high defect rates, solar energy is not a major source of electric power and its future remains uncertain, according to the release.

This award-winning project solves this problem by using innovative, unprecedented FeS2 samples as an alternative semiconducting material

Aakanksha Saxena

Aakanksha Saxena

which will allow manufacturers to identify contaminant- free pyrite samples to utilize in the production of photovoltaic cells.

“Congratulations to Divya and Aakanksha on this remarkable achievement – their work is impressive, and their achievements also say a lot about the high-quality schools that families in Scottsdale enjoy,” stated Scottsdale Mayor W.J. “Jim” Lane, in the release. “We know that exposing students to science, technology, engineering and math and encouraging them to pursue those challenging fields is important to our future, so I also want to thank Google for helping to stoke that fire of curiosity and exploration among our young people.”

After much deliberation, the Google Science Fair team judges selected Ms.Vatsa and Ms. Saxena to move on to the next round of judging with only 88 other regional finalists. On Aug. 4, 20 global finalists will be announced and travel to Google’s headquarters in California in September for the final judging and awards ceremony, stated the release.

This year, students are competing for the grand prize of $50,000 to be used towards their educational pursuits, according to the release.

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