North County High School freshman Jack Andraka took his family's history in the roofing business and turned it into a project that earned him a top spot in the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge.
More than 150 county charter school students participated in an assembly Tuesday at Chesapeake Science Point Public Charter School in Hanover honoring the 14-year-old who recently was named one of the top 10 finalists in the competition. Jack applied to the competition when he was an eighth-grader at Chesapeake Science Point, a school he attended in grades six through eight.
To enter the contest, Jack said he was first required to conduct a science experiment using 3M products, then to submit a video entry on the contest website.
According to Jack, many of his family members work as roofers, and hearing his family complain about tools slipping off the roof when they are working was the motivation behind his winning entry.
“Thirty-eight percent of roofing injuries happen when the roofer's tool slips off the roof and falls to the ground,” Jack said. “When a roofer grabs for the tool and loses their balance, or the tool falls from the roof and hits someone on the ground below, lots of people get hurt.”
Jack said that his project involved him testing several common tools used by roofers to find out at what points the tools make contact with the roof.
“I moistened the tools with water and laid them on a plate of flour. Wherever the flour adhered to the tool's handle, I knew that was a contact point. I then placed 3M Anti-Slip Pads on the contact points to prevent the tools from sliding down the slope of the roof.”
Patty Duncan served as head judge of the finals, which took place in Minneapolis, MN, in early October. According to Duncan, students were judged both on their overall project entry and on two on-site challenges.
“We judged the entries on innovation, use of 3M products and the process of planning and executing their experiment,” Duncan said.
During the assembly, Duncan spoke to students about the importance of science in their daily lives and encouraged them to apply for the 2012 Young Scientist Challenge.
Jack showed students the hammer he used as part of the live competition in Minneapolis, explaining the details of his project.
While Jack did not win the $25,000 first place prize, he was awarded $1,000 cash and a $500 gift card to Discovery Education for being among the top 10 nationwide finalists.
For information about the 2012 Young Scientist Challenge, or to watch Jack's entry video for this year's challenge, visit the Young Scientist Challenge website.
Editor's note: This article has been updated from its original version to clarify that Jack applied to the competition as an eighth-grader at Chesapeake Science Point.