Bedford Girls’ School pupil wins national science award with Diabetes app

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A Year 9 Bedford Girls’ Student (BGS) has been awarded the prestigious Junior Engineering 2021 prize for her Big Bang Competition project entitled ‘DM2.Prevent’.

Serena Jacob, has created an app to prevent or potentially even treat Type 2 Diabetes. The app targets reversible risk factors for the disease and provides ways to reduce those risks.

She was inspired to develop the app when a close family friend was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. Serena wanted to learn more about how the disease could be tackled.

“I’m simply ecstatic to be chosen as Junior Engineer of the Year,” said Serena.

“I never thought that I could actually win this, especially as the calibre of entries was outstanding. I am really thrilled to know that all my hard work has finally paid off.

“I would love to thank all of those that have supported me with this project, especially the STEM Coordinator at BGS, Dr Swope, who has helped me throughout.”

Over 200 young people submitted projects to The Big Bang Competition, an annual contest designed to recognise and reward young people’s achievements in all areas of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), as well as helping them build skills and confidence in project-based work.

As part of her submission, Serena undertook extensive research and received advice and support from former BGS parent, Mrs Charlotte Lucas.

Mrs Lucas is a pharmacist and researcher with a speciality in Type 2 Diabetes prevention. She and Serena were able to connect online to discuss the project.

Dr Swope, Physics Teacher and STEM Coordinator said: “Serena is well-deserving of this award. She has worked several hours each week since September putting together the pieces required for this app project.

“In the process, Serena has learned how to create and assemble app images as well as how to program and collect information from movement data with a microcontroller, and she has also furthered her programming skills in Python.

“Serena has also shown her resolve as a researcher and has developed a great working knowledge of Diabetes Mellitus 2.”

Serena was awarded £750 in prize money to continue on her STEM journey as well as a trophy and certificate.

Previous winners have gone on to enjoy a range of other achievements on the back of their successes – including, getting backing from businesses for their projects, setting up their own businesses, taking part in conference presentations to industry professionals as well as appearing on the television and radio shows to talk about their projects.

Dr Hilary Leevers, Chief Executive of EngineeringUK, which organises The Big Bang Competition, said: “There is no denying that students have had to deal with a lot of disruption to their learning in recent months, and the quality of this year’s entries is a testament to their talent, dedication and creativity under these difficult circumstances.

“Huge congratulations to Serena whose innovative project has seen her awarded as the junior winner in the engineering category of The Big Bang UK Young Scientists & Engineers Competition.”

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