'Whiz Kids' Documents Welcker's Science Journey

Kelydra Welcker, a state winner and U.S. finalist of the 2007 Stockholm Junior Water Prize competition, is one of three young scientists profiled in the documentary "Whiz Kids," which will be released worldwide on June 16. The film is about their journey to the Intel Science Talent Search (STS).

Created by producer Michael Duca, director and former STS competitor Tom Shepard, and executive producer Greg Little, “Whiz Kids” aims to bring attention to the decline of funding and support for math and science programs in the United States.

An environmental scientist from Parkersburg, W.Va., Welcker spent several years researching the potential health effects of perfluorooctanoate (APFO), a surfactant used to make Teflon that is allegedly being dumped into the Ohio River by a local Dupont plant. She set out to prove whether the plant had been filtering out as much APFO from its industrial wastes as claimed and in the process developed an alternative filtering technique using non-exotic materials — research for which she would later get patents.

Her research, “Quantification, Removal, and Recovery of the Teflon® Surfactant APFO”is published in the Journal of the U.S. SJWP.

According to the film’s Web site, the filmmaking team was “especially drawn to the tension between how Kelydra navigated the space between industry, the environment, and her idealistic drive to protect her community.”

The other "Whiz Kids" are Pakistani-born paleontologist Harmain Khan and Ecuadorian-American Ana Cisneros.

For more information about the film, visit www.whizkidsmovie.com. For more information about the Stockholm Junior Water Prize program, visit www.sjwp.org.

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