Bothell student Yuna Shin, 17, won a $50,000 scholarship for her work studying and teaching science and math in a contest honoring women in STEM fields, inspired by the movie “Hidden Figures.”
A Bothell high-school student won a $50,000 scholarship Thursday for her studying and work in science and math.
Yuna Shin, a 17-year-old junior at Henry M. Jackson High School in Mill Creek, took home one of two grand prizes in “The Search for Hidden Figures” contest, a scholarship fund honoring future female leaders in STEM fields.
The contest, sponsored by PepsiCo and 21st Century Fox, is named for the Golden Globe-winning movie “Hidden Figures.” The film tells the story of three female African-American mathematicians who were instrumental at NASA in the 1960s.
Shin focused her application on the importance of women participating in STEM fields — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — and on her research into a phone app that could help epilepsy patients monitor when a seizure may come on.
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“My essay really emphasized being a woman in STEM,” Shin said. “It’s about breaking barriers in STEM because it’s not a common thing for a woman to be expected or acknowledged in the field.”
During her freshman year of high school, she competed with a team in an app challenge where they debuted a way for epilepsy patients to automatically alert a hospital or caretaker when brain waves suggest a seizure may be coming.
Shin also works with a nonprofit that teaches science and math to younger girls.
“It makes me feel like I’m doing something that is going to leave an impact for all these little girls to know that they can pursue STEM,” she said.
Shin has been interested in science and math since she was young, when she began questioning everything. “To me, it seems like science is the poetry of reality,” she said.
Shin plans to use the scholarship funds to attend a four-year university.
Semifinalist Geneva Feist
A Seattle high-school student also beat out more than 7,000 applicants in the contest to become a semifinalist.
Geneva Feist could smell the forest fires burning in the air from her Seattle home last summer. “I thought, maybe I could help prevent them from getting larger than they need to be,” she said.
The 17-year-old, a senior at Nathan Hale High School, wrote two essays and submitted a video proposal to the contest committee to reach the semifinal level.
Her big idea combines two of her passions — math and the environment.
Feist envisions a drone that could detect forest fires before they begin to spread. The effort, partially inspired by the drone her brother is always flying, would send drones over areas prone to forest fires.
“The drone would detect them and notify firefighters or others, and they could come and put them out before they spread,” she said.
The drone is just an idea, but Feist hopes to build it one day.
She became interested in computer science last year, when she was inadvertently placed in a course at school.
“I didn’t think I would like it, but I ended up really liking it,” she said.
The math, coupled with Feist’s drive to solve problems and build puzzles, struck a chord within her. She attended a seven-week Girls Who Code summer camp, and this year is taking an AP computer-science class.
The Hidden Figures contest aims to encourage and honor women within the STEM fields, which are largely made up of men.
The contest awarded more than $200,000 in scholarships.