Heman Bekele, a freshman W.T. Woodson High School student in Annandale, Virginia, won the prestigious 2023 3M Young Scientist Challenge jointly hosted by 3M and Discovery Education. Bekele clinched the top spot with his innovative creation, the Skin Cancer Treating Soap (SCTS), designed to combat skin cancer. Heman received a $25,000 cash prize for his remarkable achievement and the coveted title of "America's Top Young Scientist."
Competing against nine other finalists over the last four months, Bekele's final triumph unfolded during challenging events held at 3M's global headquarters in St. Paul, Minn., on October 9 and 10. The contestants were assessed based on their ingenuity, application of STEM principles, research passion, presentation skills, and ability to inspire others.
Bekele's SCTS is a response to the pressing issue of skin cancer, the most prevalent cancer in the United States, with an annual treatment cost of $8.1 billion. He aims to refine his invention over the next five years and establish a nonprofit organization to provide this low-cost solution to underserved communities.
The 3M Young Scientist Challenge fosters creativity and STEM application among middle school students, with past winners achieving remarkable success, including TED Talks, patents, nonprofit foundations, and appearances in renowned publications and TV shows.
This competition complements the Young Scientist Lab program, providing free digital resources for students, teachers, and families to explore and innovate in STEM fields.
Congratulations Heman Bekele!