Brown Girl of the Month Deepika Kurup Wants to Save the World Through Clean Water

by Deepika Kurup

Meet our Brown Girl of the Month of May 2013!

Deepika Kurup is a 14-year-old freshman at Nashua High School South in New Hampshire. She won first place at the 2012 Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge, a competition that encourages students in grades 5-8 to be innovative in solving everyday issues of the world using science. She also has a black belt in Shaolin Kempo, a form of Martial Arts, and will soon be receiving a black belt in Tae-kwon-do.

The science of today is the technology of tomorrow.

~Edward Teller

“I have been passionate about solving the global water crisis ever since I was in elementary school. Every summer, my family and I visit our relatives in India and whenever we travel, my parents always remind me to only drink bottled or boiled water. On one of my trips to India, I saw children drinking dirty water from the roadside. I was troubled to learn that around 2.2 million people, most of them children in developing countries, die each year due to water related diseases. Living in the United States, I am very fortunate to be able to just turn on the tap and instantly get potable water, while one sixth of the world’s population lacks access to clean water.

[Photo Courtesy: Deepika Kurup]
In 2012, I entered the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge in an attempt to make my contributions to solving the global water problem. In late June, I learned that I was selected as one of the top 10 national finalists of this prestigious middle school science competition. Over the summer, I worked with Dr. Jim Jonza, my scientist mentor from 3M, and developed a prototype that harnesses solar energy for water purification. My invention is green, sustainable and cost effective, and I am looking forward to implementing this in places that are affected by harmful water contamination.

Deepika and mentor 3M Scientist Jim Jonza
Deepika with her mentor Dr. Jonza [Photo Courtesy: Deepika Kurup]
In October 2012, my family and I flew to 3M Headquarters in St. Paul, Minnesota where the final event was to be held. In St. Paul, I met my mentor Dr. Jonza in person for the first time. I also became close friends with the other nine finalists. For the final event, we were given two on-the-spot challenges in which we had to combine our scientific knowledge along with our communication skills. For the last challenge, each of us had to present the innovation we had been working on over the summer. After I gave my presentation to the judges, I watched all the other finalists present and was amazed by everyone’s scientific ingenuity.

1 Deepika (with finalist Brandon Gong)
Deepika with co-finalist Brandon Gong [Photo Courtesy: Deepika Kurup]
By the time of the awards ceremony, I knew it was still anyone’s game. The first place winner would win $25,000, a trip to Costa Rica from Discovery Student Adventures, a trophy, and the title of America’s Top Young Scientist. Although none of us knew each other’s scores, we all knew that everyone did excellent in all three challenges. All of us waited anxiously until one of the judges, Danny Forester from the popular Discovery Education TV show “Build it Bigger”, started announcing “The winner of the 2012 Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge is…” You could hear a pin drop as he opened the paper with the winner’s name – “Deepika Kurup!”

Winning shot - Deepika Kurup - Nashua, NH
Winning shot – Deepika Kurup – Nashua, NH [Photo Courtesy: Deepika Kurup]
These past few months have been an incredible journey. I had the amazing opportunity of meeting President Obama and discussing my invention and my passion for Math and Science. I was also able to showcase my invention on national television and deliver several presentations. I learned important lessons about science and innovation and was given an opportunity to share my ideas with the world. One of the most important things I have learned throughout this journey is that communication and collaboration are key to success. After all, nothing in science has any value to society unless it is shared with the world.

Apart from science, I love reading, and I am a huge fan of the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. In my free time, I like practicing my clarinet and learning Martial Arts. I am also a member of my school’s math team, science team, senate and literary magazine.” – Deepika Kurup

Follow BGOTM Deepika Kurup on Twitter and check out her Wikipedia page. 

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