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State Honoree

Kathleen Murray

Kansas

Kathleen Murray, 13, of Leawood, Kan., an eighth-grader at Leawood Middle School, conducted a scientific research project on lead poisoning. After learning that most children get lead poisoning by eating chips of the lead-based paint used on many older homes, Katie thought about a family friend who helped build vegetable gardens in inner-city communities. She wondered whether vegetables grown in soil around these older homes would be contaminated with lead, making them unsafe to eat. To the surprise of chemists from the federal Food and Drug Administration, who helped her with her research, Katie’s project determined that lead in the soil does, indeed, end up in vegetables. The next year, she conducted more research and found that vitamin C reduced the levels of lead in the bloodstream of worms by 24 percent. Katie’s findings were selected by a Kansas State University professor to be published in the U.S. and in Russia, where lead poisoning is an even larger problem. “Even though some kids may not think science is cool, I think it is a very important area to study,” said Katie. “I would tell them that even kids my age can make a difference.”