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Teen wins top young scientist prize for creating cancer-treating soap at just 14


A young teenager from a small town in Virginia is making big waves with a bright idea that might just help people with cancer.

Heman Beleke, who’s only 14 years old and a freshman at W.T. Woodson High School in Annandale, has done something pretty special. He’s created a soap, but not just any soap. This one is aimed at helping treat cancer.

Imagine this: a boy in the middle of his school days, when most kids are figuring out algebra and who to sit with at lunch, decides to dive into the world of science. And it’s not just for a school project. Heman took his love for science and turned it into a winning entry for a big competition called the 3M Young Scientist Challenge. He wasn’t even in high school yet when he started on this path!

YouTube/3M Young Scientist Challenge

It’s like something out of a movie. After going head to head with nine other smart kids, Heman won the top prize. This wasn’t just any prize. We’re talking about $25,000! But it’s not the money that’s the most exciting part. It’s that people who really love science are taking notice of what he’s done.

Now, here’s the magic of what Heman created. He mixed together some special ingredients like salicylic acid, glycolic acid, and tretinoin. These aren’t just fancy science words; they’re things that help the skin in a special way to fight off bad stuff like cancer.

Heman says it took him eight months to make his soap idea come to life. That’s less time than it takes to go through a whole school year! He calls it M.T.S., which stands for “melanoma treating soap.” Melanoma is a type of skin cancer, and his soap is made to go after it.

Fairfax County School Board

What’s cool is that Heman’s soap is super cheap to make. Each bar costs about 50 cents. That means a lot of people could use it, no matter how much money they have.

After he won the prize, Heman shared how wild the whole thing feels to him. He even told a news channel that making the first version of the soap was the hardest part. And guess what? He’s not stopping at soap. Heman dreams of becoming an electrical engineer and leading a team to make new things that could change technology.

For someone like Heman, it seems like there’s no limit to what he can do. He’s got big plans, and he’s off to a pretty amazing start. If Heman’s story has you feeling inspired, why not tell your friends about it? Share it around and spread the word. Who knows? It might just spark another young inventor to start something great.