Teenage Stockholm syndrome

Last year, after 15-year-old Katie Vanderwheele read an article about natural arsenic contaminating the drinking water in Bangladesh, she decided that tackling this global problem was a natural fit for a school science project.

Ishani Ganguli
Aug 1, 2005

Last year, after 15-year-old Katie Vanderwheele read an article about natural arsenic contaminating the drinking water in Bangladesh, she decided that tackling this global problem was a natural fit for a school science project. So she went to Bill Lamb, her science teacher at Oregon Episcopal School in Portland. Gifted students such as Vanderwheele often come to him with ambitious projects – what he calls "Nobel Prize syndrome." In this case, the results of Vanderwheele's research have brought her closer to a Nobel – geographically, at least.

Vanderwheele's project, in which she used water hyacinths to purify arsenic-laced water, earned her $2,500 and the right to represent the US in the Stockholm Junior Water Prize. In August, she'll take a break from her job as a summer camp counselor when ITT Industries sends her to Stockholm to compete with students from more than 30 other countries for the international honor....

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