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Published on May 24, 2024
Washington State High Schoolers Shine in Third Annual WTN Youth Science ContestSource: Washington State Department of Health

The sharpest young minds across Washington State are making their mark with the conclusion of the third annual Washington Tracking Network (WTN) Youth Science Contest, an opportunity where high school students tackle public health issues using hard data from their own backyards. The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) has nothing but praise for the participants. "Students really care about issues that affect the health of their friends, families, and communities," WTN Manager Jennifer Sabel stated. "It is great to see their passion for identifying, analyzing, and trying to improve these public health issues, and that we’re able to guide them in that work," as stated by the Washington State Department of Health.

With competition spanning three categories – Health Science, Science Communication, and Program and Policy Design – the entries were as diverse as they were insightful. Tesla STEM High School's Anisha Upasani took the top spot in the Health Science individual category with a paper linking breast cancer cases to socioeconomic status. Correlation, it seems, does have the capacity to catch the eye amid clear data presentations and in-depth health impact analysis. On the group front, Shorecrest High School's Isaac Lee and Mateo Stevens took the lead with work on teens and BMI.

In the arena of Science Communication, individually Liberty High School's Aditi Marehalli claimed the first prize with a poetic piece on medication safety. Meanwhile, a trio from Shorecrest High School grabbed the group's first prize with a project shedding light on the perils of carbon monoxide, as reported by the Washington State Department of Health. Over in the Program and Policy track, the winning submission, offering strategies for bridging the healthy foods gap, came from Tesla STEM High School's Keerthi Rajesh and Naman Mutalik Desai.

The event, highlighting the Department of Health's commitment to accessible public health information, displayed projects that could be viewed on the WTN contest webpage. It truly amplified the voices of high school students, striving to address and unpack the layered health challenges within their communities. Whether it was examining the ties between poverty and opioid overdose or looking into mental health disparities among Native American communities, students used the platform to propose data-driven solutions for issues often overlooked, crafting policy initiatives with potential real-world impact.