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10-Year-Old Girl Discovers New Molecule In Science Class

10-Year-Old Girl Discovers New Molecule In Science Class

Clara Lazen is not your typical fifth-grader. The Kansas City, Missouri student was tackling an assignment in science class manipulating molecular models when she made an accidental scientific breakthrough. Armed with some basic instruction on the formation and structure of molecules, Clara ended up combining a mixture of oxygen, hydrogen and carbon atoms to create a molecule her chemistry teacher, Kenneth Boehr, had never seen before.

After the exercise, Clara wanted to know if the molecule she’d modeled existed in real life. Boehr got in touch with a friend, Robert Zoellner, who also happens to be a computational chemist, to see if he could offer any insight. Zoellner couldn’t tell at a glance whether the molecule was real, so he did a little research and found that Clara’s molecular formula is a new structural arrangement for the chemical nitroglycerin.

Zoellner has named the new molecule tetranitratoxycarbon, and is publishing a paper detailing his research – with Clara and Mr. Boehr both listed as co-authors. There are still many questions left to be answered: no one knows exactly what the molecule’s properties might be if synthesized in a lab. Zoellner theorizes that, due to its similarity to nitroglycerin, it might have the potential to store energy, or it might be combustible. It’s not even clear, at present, whether it would be possible to create the molecule at all.

While more research is currently being done to find out more about Clara’s molecule, the future looks bright for this 10-year-old scientist. As Boehr stated in an interview with Kansas City’s local Fox affiliate, scientific fields are still highly male-dominated, and findings like Clara’s can make all the difference for girls and young women hoping to break into the field.

You can see Clara’s molecule and listen to her talk about her creative process in assembling it in this local news clip.


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Photo credit: p_a_h

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3:44PM PDT on May 29, 2012

Just when I was sure that I new it all !!

2:23PM PDT on May 29, 2012


5:31AM PDT on May 29, 2012

Clara, thank you. Hope for our future.
United we stand........................

6:08AM PST on Mar 2, 2012

Too cool

1:19PM PST on Feb 22, 2012

I am glad when young children outsmart adults. Keeps our superiors humble.

3:14PM PST on Feb 21, 2012

I'm glad it wasn't me, I'd have been accused of super gluing it all together.

1:28PM PST on Feb 21, 2012

może trzeba wpuścić do skostniałej nauki więcej świeżego powietrza np. dzieci

10:57AM PST on Feb 21, 2012


9:27PM PST on Feb 16, 2012

Thank you for the news.

7:16PM PST on Feb 16, 2012

Oh christ, dont' let FOX near her! they'll have her believing science is wrong and abortion is up to the church!

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