High schooler wins big with STEM project - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

High schooler wins big with STEM project

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RICHLAND, WA - For a lot of us, math was one of our least favorite subjects in school...but not for Richland High School freshman Zoe Gotthold.

Reporter Mackenzie Allen sat down with the math whiz to learn more about the project that helped earn her a $3,500 scholarship.

The whole thing started with a love for penguins, and wanting to keep them safe after a potential oil spill: the focus of her project. Zoe had no idea when she entered the National STEM Competition Broadcom Masters that she would end up with the top prize for her category.

In fact, when she first started working on her project, she wasn't sure she would even get any usable results. But now that she's been through the competition, she says she'd recommend anyone with an interest into the STEM fields.

"It was really amazing to meet 29 other people who love science and math just as much as I do," Zoe said. "Just to be able to hang out with them for an entire week."

So what's next? Zoe says she wants to continue looking at how to best clean up after an oil spill, but hopes to be able to work with actual crude instead of the stand-ins like cooking oil that she used for her project.

Plus, she still has to decide which STEM summer camp she wants to put her $3,500 scholarship towards.

Not surprisingly, she told us she's leaning towards ones with a marine biology focus.

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