Aiming High With Science


It may be summer vacation, but a middle school student at Edison in Sioux Falls has a busy summer ahead. 

From NASA Space Camp to competing in a young scientist competition, Allie Weber is making a name for herself in the U.S. and around the world. 

Allie Weber has a problem with problems. She likes to solve them. 

“I find problems all the time now. I don’t mean that to sound negative, but I do. You just come up with simple solutions to try to solve them,” Weber said. 

If Weber looks familiar, it’s because she’s no stranger to winning science competitions after coming up with new inventions. About a year ago, we caught up with her after she claimed first place in an international competition for her creation the “Frost Stopper.” A fifth grader at the time, she thought of these temperature-sensing gloves following a fight with frostbite. 

“It’s actually patent pending right now, because I entered it in the Spark Lab Invent It Challenge. It won and one of the awards was a patent consultation,” Weber said. 

She says she wasn’t expecting her first patent until much later in life. The future seventh grader in the Edison Honors program plans to work at NASA or be an entrepreneur when she grows up. 

“Or if none of that works out, I’d be a librarian because books are awesome,” Weber said. 

Weber’s latest project is breathing gauge aimed at helping kids at children’s hospitals. Here she is demonstrating part of what it does with the help of Robie the robot. She built him when she was six. 

Using a Nerf blow dart gun she got for Christmas at a local dollar store, Weber came up with a fun spirometer. It’s an instrument that measures air capacity in lungs. 

“The more I used it, the more I realized that my lungs were getting stronger and stuff so I realized this was good lung therapy. Then I remembered my grandfather who had to do lung therapy in the past years. Then I thought of the kids in children’s hospitals that have to use them all the time. They have to use them up to twelve times a day,” Weber said. 

And that could get boring. The new spirometer idea landed Weber in the top 10 in the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge. 

“So she’s very creative. She’s got a lot of great ideas and she’s very resourceful,” mentor Kristin Thunhorst said. 

For the next few months, Weber will work with a mentor in St. Paul, Minnesota. Kristin Thunhorst works with 3M’s Industrial Business Group in research and development. She says this competition is great for students interested in science, technology, engineering and math.  

“It gives them that exposure and that encouragement to believe that they can really make a difference, even at this young age. They can really make a difference using their science and STEM skills in the world to help make the world better, to make lives better,” Thunhorst said. 

In mid-October, Weber will head to the 3M Innovation Center to present her project. If she takes home first place, the honor comes with a lot of money.

Matt Holsen: What would you do if you won $25,000?

Weber: “Freak out. That would be really, really exciting. I don’t know if I’ll ever get that, but I don’t know, we’ll have to find out.”

In the meantime, she’s going to keep fine-tuning her inventions and urges other kids to spend time creating as well. 

“The easiest way to find an idea is to find a problem and think of a simple solution or think of a list of solutions and then find the best one. Just pick that and go with it. It doesn’t even matter if you just get stuck or anything. Just keep going and then you’ll be able to eventually do it,” Weber said. 

Before she presents her prototype at the competition in Minnesota, Weber plans to go to NASA Space Camp in Alabama this July.

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