“America’s Top Young Scientist” Wants to Use Music Therapy to Improve Mental Health

Sarah Park wants to use music therapy to fight mental illness. (Credit: Discoveryeducation.com)

Sarah Park was aware of the impact music on the brain from an early age. The 13-year-old, who has been playing the violin since she was 4, says she noticed her positive effect on his surroundings, above all his grandmother, who suffered from mental illness.

Now the Jacksonville, Florida middle schooler hopes to use the music therapy to help others struggling with mental health issues. His invention, Spark Care+, earned him the title of “America’s Top Young Scientist” at the 3M Young Scientist Challenge on October 19, 2021.

“I was pretty shocked when they announced my name as the grand prize winner,” Park said. “I was excited and Nice To Meet You with what’s to come with Spark Care+.”

Spark Care+ requires attendees at to respond a series of questions based on the Hamilton Anxiety and Depression Scale, designed to assess the mental state of the person. The device is integrated sensors registration vital mental health indicators, such as heart rate and blood pressure. The AI ​​(artificial intelligence) component of Spark Care+ analyzes the information and recommended the appropriate music to help lift the participant spirits. This too monitors its impact on the listener.

Sarah Park hopes to make her invention accessible to everyone. (The Park Family)

The ninth-grader hopes to transform her prototype in a bracelet with sensors, a heart rate monitor and Bluetooth. She also wants to create an app to make Spark Care+ accessible to everybody. “I hope I can distribute all over the world to people of all ages,” says Park.

Besides being an inventor, Park is also a comedian prodigy who has won several fiddle competitions, including the Florida State Championship. She also plays the piano and is a champion in mathematics. Teenager aspire be a innovator and researcher in the medical field using technology and robotics. His advice to others young scientists? “Dream big, ask questions, and anything is possible.”

The top ten finalists of the 2021 3M Young Science Challenge (Credit: Discovery education.com)

Samarth Mahapatra, an eighth grade student from Marietta, Georgia, won second prize for his algorithms to help the visually impaired to cook. Snigtha Mohanraj, an eighth-grade student from West Haven, Connecticut, came third for her invention, which extracts microplastics and oil contaminated the water.

Now in its 14th year, the 3M Young Scientist Challenge is an annual national competition that challenges students in grades 5-8 to find a unique solution to a daily problem. In addition to prestigious title of “Best Young American Scientist”, the winner of the grand prize receives a exclusive mentorship with a 3M scientist, a cash prize of $25,000 and a special prize destination trip. Second and third place winners each receive $1,000 in prize money and a special destination trip.

Resources: eschoolnews.com, jacksonville.com, prnewswire.com, youngscientistlab.co

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