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Bakersfield teen named top student scientist in the nation

"The top 300 is a very special group."
Posted at 6:28 AM, Oct 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-06 09:28:20-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Chicken bones are what made Kaitlyn Sharrer a top student scientist in the United States.

"My project was on chicken bones and which vinegar dissolved the calcium the fastest to make them bend in half," she said.

Kaitlyn was recently named one of the 300 top innovators by Broadcom MASTERS, the nation’s premiere STEM competition for middle schoolers.

“I had no faith I was going to win. [It] was really shocking," she said.

While in eighth grade at Fruitvale Junior High, Kaitlyn got the idea for her experiment thanks to some genuine curiosity.

“It kind of intrigued me since I’m lactose intolerant so I don’t have a lot of calcium,” she said.

Kaitlyn tested multiple vinegars, like red wine and balsamic. She discovered that white vinegar made the bones bend in half without breaking.

“The acidic acid is the highest out of all of them. It eats through the bone’s outer layer faster to get to the calcium to break it apart," she said.

Maya Ajmera is the president and CEO of the Society for Science, the organization that puts on the competition.

"We really want to make sure that all young people in this country can become a scientist or engineer if that’s what they want to be when they grow up," said Maya.

She said the students were judged on things like creativity, innovation, leadership and aspirations.

Kaitlyn and her fellow top 300 Broadcom MASTERS were picked from a group of 6,000.

“So the top 300 is a very special group," said Maya.

Kaitlyn is now a ninth grader at Independence High School and hopes to bring the science fair to her new campus.

She encourages any fellow students interested in STEM to go for it.

“Have fun and just because it seems hard at first, don’t stop. [When] I went on to state, I had to write so many essays. I was like, 'I don't know if I can do this,' but it got me here so just don’t give up because you’ll miss out on a lot of cool experiences," she said.

Click here to learn more about the Society for Science and its competitions.

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