Heman Bekele, a ninth grader from Fairfax, Virginia, recently won the prestigious title of America’s Top Young Scientist for his groundbreaking idea presented at the 3M Young Scientist Challenge: a soap designed to combat skin cancer at an affordable cost. Bekele’s motivation sprang from witnessing people laboring under the sun in Ethiopia and realizing the lack of awareness regarding sun exposure risks. In his application for the competition, he wrote that he believed “young minds can make a positive impact on the world.”
Bekele worked with a mentor to develop and test a physical prototype of his idea. His soap activates skin cells to fight cancer cells, a novel approach in early-stage skin cancer treatment. He told the competition judges that he wanted to turn the soap into a “symbol of hope, accessibility, and a world where skin cancer treatment is within reach for all.”
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the first vaccine to prevent disease caused by the Chikungunya virus. Chikungunya is a mosquito-borne disease that officials are calling “an emerging global health threat.” It was first identified in the United Republic of Tanzania in 1952 and then had sporadic outbreaks across Africa and Asia. Over time, the disease spread and now Chikungunya has been identified in nearly 40 countries in Asia, Africa, Europe, and, most recently, the Americas. The FDA says the highest risk of infection is in tropical and subtropical regions, but climate change is causing mosquitoes to roam beyond their current habitats, which has allowed the disease to spread to other parts of the world.
While it’s essential to stay informed about what’s happening in the world, constantly seeing distressing or violent news can take a toll on your well-being. It’s OK to take breaks from your social media feeds or apps when the news is too much to handle. Give yourself time to do activities you enjoy, chat with friends, or practice self-care to keep your spirits up. Remember that looking after your mental health is just as vital as staying informed.
Canada has announced a countrywide recall of various brands of energy drinks, including Monster, G Fuel, and Prime. Canadian officials said the drinks were being pulled from the marketplace because they exceeded Canada’s legal limit of 180 milligrams of caffeine in a single-serving can. (An 8-ounce cup of coffee typically contains 95 milligrams of caffeine.) In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t regulate caffeine levels in energy drinks because manufacturers often label their drinks as dietary supplements. Rules for supplements are less restrictive than those for foods, and the FDA doesn’t have much authority over their contents and health claims.
A new study from Common Sense Media and the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital says the average teen receives anywhere from 200 to 4,000 smartphone notifications a day. The study, which looked at the smartphone use of about 200 11- to 17-year-olds, found that 97 percent of teens were on their phone during school hours and 59 percent were online from midnight to 5 a.m. One of the study participants, who is in eleventh grade, said they thought teens would feel better if they were on their phones less. “When I lost my phone ... I didn’t have a phone for a week, and that week was amazing,” they said. “Just not having a phone, it takes this weight off of you. It almost sets you free in a way.”
Fourteen-year-old Sadie Morgan of Grand Rapids, Michigan, is the first girl and the youngest person ever to graduate from the Grand Rapids Fire Department Fire Youth Academy. Morgan has wanted to be a firefighter since she was very young, and knew she wanted to get involved with her community’s youth firefighter program. Although she was one year below the age limit, her interest and ambition impressed the deputy fire chief and she was accepted.
The teens in the program train with Grand Rapids firefighters and cadets, learning basic firefighting techniques from using equipment properly to performing CPR. “I could see myself doing that: being the person there on someone’s worst day, helping them through it, coaching them through it, reassuring them that things are going to be OK,” Morgan told a local reporter. “Whether you’re going to go off and become the next fire chief or you’re going to be like, this is fun, but it’s not for me, regardless of what you’re doing, you’re still becoming a better person, bettering yourself. You’re becoming one more person in this community that can help in a crisis.”
This year’s Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine has been awarded to Katalin Karikó, a Hungarian-American biochemist, and Drew Weissman, an American physician, for their work on mRNA vaccines. Their research, which was published 15 years before the COVID-19 pandemic, led directly to the first mRNA vaccines to fight COVID-19. Of the 227 people whose work has been recognized with the prize, Karikó is only the thirteenth woman among them.
An mRNA vaccine, like the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, is a type of vaccine that uses a tiny piece of genetic material called messenger RNA (mRNA) to teach our immune systems how to fight off a specific virus. Your immune system learns how to recognize and fight the virus if you ever get exposed to it in the future.
A study published last week in the scientific journal Addiction found that the percent of U.S. overdose deaths involving both fentanyl and stimulants like cocaine or meth increased from 0.6 percent in 2010 to 32.3 percent in 2021. Those overdoses have resulted in nearly 35,000 deaths. The study authors noted that the combination of fentanyl and stimulants was the fourth “wave” of the opioid crisis in the United States. The first wave was the rise of prescription opioids in the early 2000s. The second wave was the rapid increase in overdose deaths involving heroin, starting around 2010, and the third wave was the rise of illicit fentanyl around 2013.
If you’ve ever experienced thoughts of suicide, you’re not alone. Talking about suicide is important because it can literally save lives. It can help people who are struggling to know they’re not alone, and that it’s OK to ask for help. It also breaks down the idea that talking about mental health is something to be ashamed of. Suicide Prevention Month is about making people aware of the signs that someone might need support and how you can be there for your friends or yourself.
Last year, the U.S. government transitioned the national Suicide and Crisis Lifeline to 988—an easy-to-remember, three-digit number for 24/7 crisis care. This November, Canada’s crisis hotline Talk Suicide Canada will get its own three-digit number. Talking to someone you trust such as a family member, friend, teacher, or counselor can help you process your feelings, but there are also many free, anonymous, and confidential helplines that provide counseling and support. You can find more ways to get help on our Hotlines
As students go back to school, news and media sites are discussing how ChatGPT continues to evolve and play an increasingly significant role in education. Recent research from the Walton Family Foundation found that 42 percent of students are using ChatGPT, up from 33 percent in a prior survey. While many experts say chatbots like ChatGPT and Bard can be used in positive ways, they agree that these tools are no substitute for doing your own research. ChatGPT is an answer generator, and its answers are only as good as the information it was trained on. A true search engine only provides you with sources, not answers, and it leaves it up to you to determine which ones are credible.
As students go back to school, news and media sites are discussing how ChatGPT continues to evolve and play an increasingly significant role in education. Recent research from the Walton Family Foundation found that 42 percent of students are using ChatGPT, up from 33 percent in a prior survey. Earlier this year, high school senior Rohan Mehta from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, wrote an op-ed for MIT Technology Review where he talked about how generative AI could potentially benefit students as a learning tool. “...the very act of discussing my writing ‘out loud,’ albeit with a machine, helped me figure out what I wanted to say next,” he wrote. “Using ChatGPT to verbalize the space of possibilities—from the scale of words to paragraphs—strengthened my own thinking.”
While many experts are hopeful that chatbots like ChatGPT and Bard can be used in positive ways, they agree that these tools are no substitute for doing your own research. ChatGPT is an answer generator, and its answers are only as good as the information it was trained on. A true search engine only provides you with sources, not answers, and it leaves it up to you to determine which ones are credible.
Sixteen-year-old Rahul Vijayan recently received a 2023 International Young Eco-Hero Award from the nonprofit Action for Nature. The award recognizes and rewards young people who are taking action to solve the world’s tough environmental problems. Vijayan created a project called Farm to Tray to improve access to fresh organic produce in Houston area schools. He partnered with a local hydroponic farm and introduced on-site hydroponic farming, a technique of growing plants using a water-based nutrient solution rather than soil. The schools’ student body runs the program within the environmental club.
“I’m truly honored, especially being so invested in sustainability and nature and climate change,” Vijayan told the Houston Chronicle. “I always love finding peers who are in the same field as me. I’m even trying to connect with some students there to bring hydroponics to their school and bring some of their projects to mine.”
A new study led by the universities of Cambridge and Warwick in Britain and Fudan University in China says under-age smokers may have different brains than their peers who don’t smoke. The findings, published in the scientific journal Nature Communications, found that teens who started smoking by 14 had less gray matter in a section of the left frontal lobe—the part of the brain involved in decision-making and rule-breaking behavior. This may be linked to teens’ desire to to start smoking and the strengthening of nicotine addiction.
Once they started smoking, teens also had reduced gray matter in the right frontal lobe, which may weaken their ability to quit. Study co-author Trevor Robbins said, “The initiation of a smoking habit is most likely to occur during adolescence. Any way of detecting an increased chance of this, so we can target interventions, could help save millions of lives.”
Maui, the second-largest island in Hawaii, suffered devastating wildfires that destroyed most of the historic town of Lahaina. It is now the deadliest U.S. wildfire in more than 100 years. Maui was already under a warning for fire risk when the wildfires broke out, driven by winds that were increased by Hurricane Dora. Almost 85 percent of wildfires in the United States are caused by humans, according to the National Park Service, but certain weather can ignite and help spread fires.
When a natural disaster occurs, you must stay alert and be ready to leave your home at a moment’s notice. It’s also important to listen to updates and instructions from local authorities about how to respond to emergencies in your area.