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Tired of seeing cars racing along the street in front of her home on Francis Lewis Boulevard, eighth-grader Cheyenne Hua devised a solution to put the brakes on heavy-footed speedsters while leaving nothing but smooth sailing for law-abiding drivers.
And that idea for a speed bump that raises up only for speeding cars earned the 14-year-old a trip to Minnesota last week where she took home $1,000 from a national science competition.
“I had already finished my science fair project for 8th grade (which was the speed bump), and I was just browsing science contests one day and I found the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge,” she wrote in an e-mail. “It looked fun and challenging because I had to edit a video, which I had never done before, and I already had a project finished and ready, so I just gave it a shot.”
Hua created a model for her invention, which calculates a vehicle’s speed as it passes over a sensor, and uses a lever to raise the speed bump, which then lowers beneath the roadway surface. She said she was inspired by a fatal crash caused by drag racers two years earlier.
The Hunter College High School student was one of 10 selected on the basis of her video to participate in the competition.
After being chosen to participate in the contest, she worked with a 3M mentor over the summer on a flood-protection system she devised after seeing the devastation flooding wreaked on homes on the news.
The system is a waterproof sheet, attached to a house with a 3M adhesive, with a ring on the top of it that floats as the water level starts to rise. As the water gets higher, it lifts the ring, which pulls the sheet along with it.
She presented her system during a three-day stay in St. Paul last week, where she worked with a partner in two other challenges.
“I also met the other nine finalists, which was an amazing experience, because they are all extremely smart, wonderful people who have the same interest as I do. We also got to see some of 3M’s labs, which was really great,” she wrote.
When not marveling over the minds of Einstein and Darwin, Hua likes to spend her free time fencing, and she said she would like to go on solving theoretical questions.
“I plan to put that $1,000 prize money into college, and maybe use some to work on more inventions — enter some more contests. But the DE3MYSC is one of a kind, and I’ll never have the same experience anywhere else,” she wrote. “I’ll certainly keep going forward on the science side, and I’m thinking of a career in engineering, though I don’t know what kind.”
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4574.
©2011 Community Newspaper Group
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