Sara Volz is not your everyday high school science student.
The 17-year-old, who memorized the first 80 digits of “pi” in sixth grade, is bidding to develop an alternative fuel. From her bedroom. Which also contains a $100,000 laboratory.
Volz came to the media’s attention earlier this week when President Obama hosted the annual White House Science Fair and namechecked the super-smart high school senior:
“We got Sara Volz, who is breeding new types of algae. Where’s Sara? [Volz stands up to audience applause]. There’s Sara. Sara is breeding new types of algae. She stores them in a lab in her room. So Sara, you have very supportive parents.”
“Supportive” may be an understatement. CBS reports that the teen has a state-of-the-art laboratory beneath her bed in her Colorado Springs home. She’s currently using the high-end equipment to try and convert algae into an alternative fuel source. The young scientist tells CBS:
“For most of my growth experiments, they have to be very closely monitored. Sometimes I’m sampling every day or more than once a day. And so for that I need something a little closer to home.”
But don’t go thinking Sara is pampered. Much of her laboratory was paid for after she won $100,000 in the Intel Science Talent Search. That money will also be used to pay for her tuition at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which Volz will attend from next fall.
“I’m thinking I want to go into academia,” says the teenage phenomenon. “So do basically what I’m doing, except with better labs.”
Sarah, who also teaches and writes tests for her high school’s science Olympiad team, adds:
“As human beings, we are scientists, because we’re curious, we question. That’s what science is.”
[Image via Shutterstock.com]