Who doesn’t remember grade-school science classes? Life was simpler back then, with “labs” that felt more like play time, complete with soda-plus-Mentos experiments or atom assembly with foam balls and hanger wire.
Leave it to today’s youth to up the game a few crazy notches. Kansas City fifth grader Clara Lazen has succeeded where many older and more educated people have failed: The pint-size wünderkind discovered a brand-new molecule and was just published in a major theoretical chemistry journal.
Lazen was just doing what the teacher instructed — crafting molecules during science class at her Montessori school. She paid particular attention to making sure her work was complete, that the design didn’t have any holes, and then asked the teacher if the molecule “was real.” He had no idea, so he reached out to a friend at Humboldt State University in California, who performed a computer analysis on it. Fast forward, and presto — out comes an article in January’s Computational and Theoretical Chemistry that lists the professor, the teacher and the 10-year-old as co-authors of the article.
Given this has to do with energy, the little girl’s “tetranitratoxycarbon” might even lead to advancements in things like battery technology, public works or even weapons technology. But even if it doesn’t, if it merely gives some juice to women in science (and their little, pint-size beta models), then I’d still call this a pretty amazing feat.