In Fishbird, we talk a lot about breaking from the past in order to create unimagined futures. Children, by their very age, are very good at this. They don’t have much emotional or experiential baggage to navigate. Everything is possibility. The following story is a perfect example of this.
From the Humboldt State University website:
“When Kenneth Boehr instructed his fifth grade class at Border Star Montessori School in Kansas City, Mo. to build molecules with modeling kits, he didn’t expect one of his students to make a scientific discovery. But that’s what happened when Clara Lazen, 10, randomly arranged a unique combination of oxygen, nitrogen and carbon atoms. The result was a molecule that Boehr had never seen before.”
Boehr ended up emailing a picture of the molecule to a chemistry professor friend to see if it was, in fact, a possible arrangement.
The professor didn’t know.
So he did some research.
Turns out, the only reference to the molecule was from a paper published in 1904. But the paper had a different arrangement of atoms. Digging deeper, the professor determined that “not only was Lazen’s molecule unique, it had the potential to store energy. It contains the same combination of atoms as nitroglycerin, a powerful explosive.”
The professor submitted a research paper on his finding to the January issue of Computational and Theoretical Chemistry. Both Lazen and Boehr are listed as co-authors.
“It still remains to be seen how the research paper will be received. Since scientists are always looking for new ways to harvest energy, synthetic chemists might try to create the molecule. If they succeed, they could discover a new way to store energy.”
Chalk one up for the 10 year olds.