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Rishab Jain: One Young Scientist's Journey from Idea to Invention

If you read my post back in the spring about the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge, you know what a fan I am of this fabulous opportunity for students in grades 5-8 to develop, refine, and share their inventions and innovations.  (You can still read that article about 10 Ways Adults Can Support Young Scientists by clicking HERE.)

In today's post, I'd like to tell you a little bit about one amazing student, Rishab Jain.  Once you hear about his exciting experiences on his way to become the 2018 Young Scientist Challenge winner, I suspect you'll be as much of a fan as I am!

Coming Up with Ideas to Benefit Our World

Like many middle schoolers, 13-year-old Rishab Jain has an active interest in STEM.  But this young scientist, a seventh grader at Stoller Middle School in Portland, Oregon, has taken his interest to the next level.   Demonstrating perseverance and creative innovation normally seen only in more experienced researchers and medical scientists much older than himself, Rishab began to explore and develop ways that artificial intelligence might be used in the medical field to help people enjoy longer, healthier lives.

Rishab set out to discover a way to bring our society closer to the elusive goal of curing cancer.  The young scientist investigated how one particularly lethal disease, pancreatic cancer, is currently treated through IGRT (Image-Guided Radiotherapy).  As he deepened his knowledge, Rishab identified a problem inherent in the current treatment delivery model:  radiotherapy is often made less effective due to a lack of precision in locating the pancreas.  (This lack of accuracy can be caused by a variety of factors, such as any amount of movement, the simple act of breathing, or even anatomical differences from patient to patient.)

Realizing that the solution to this problem would be to devise a tool that would help medical professionals more accurately pinpoint the location of the pancreas during radiotherapy, Rishab started brainstorming possible approaches.

Developing Beneficial Innovations and Inventions

Building on his ongoing fascination with how artificial intelligence could enhance medical technology, Rishab developed a tool called PCDLS (Pancreatic Cancer Deep Learning System).  PCDLS uses automated pancreatic segmentation to more precisely locate the pancreas.

Rishab then implemented several methods to collect and analyze data, proving that use of his PCDLS resulted in 98.4 percent accuracy in locating a patient's pancreas!

You can click here to view Rishab's entry video and to hear the young scientist describe his project in greater detail:

Participating in the Challenge

One day while watching YouTube, Rishab came across videos from the prior year's Young Scientist Challenge finalists.  As he watched them, he grew increasingly excited by the possibility of entering his own invention for consideration in the competition.

The Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge website features past finalists' videos, in which the middle school students tell how they developed their original ideas to solve everyday problems.   (Click HERE for the Past Participants Video Archive.)

Entries were submitted from mid December 2017 through mid April of 2018.  From all of the entries, judges selected state merit winners and ten finalists in June.  Finalists had the summer months to hone their projects, which they presented during the final event at 3M headquarters this past October.

Developing and Refining through Mentorship

One of the aspects of the Young Scientists Challenge that excited Rishab the most was the prospect of having a 3M scientist mentor him.

Each of the ten finalists was paired with a scientist, and spent the summer months fine-tuning his or her invention under the tutelage of the mentor.  This mentorship provided invaluable guidance for the young scientists just starting out in their fields.

As Rishab wrote in his entry, "I hope to win the competition, as it will allow me to share my ideas with the world, innovate the future, and get mentorship to make my invention into a real product."

Rishab was matched with 3M Scientist Mentor Dr. Döne Demirgöz, and together they spent the next several months refining PCDLS.

Their hard work paid off.  On October 16, only one of the finalists won the title of America's Top Young Scientist:  Rishab Jain!

America's Top Young Scientist

In the future, Rishab would like to pursue an undergraduate degree in biomedical engineering and then complete medical school to become a doctor.   But in the meantime, this young scientist who has developed a significant improvement in the treatment of cancer needs to get back to his regular routine... finishing up seventh grade!

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