We聽love聽a good fair that incorporates STEM and makers (examples include Re:Make聽+聽Maker Faire) because they introduce us to new, cutting-edge ideas that we may have never thought of before. We鈥檝e had our eyes on the聽Google Science Fair聽each year,聽and 2015鈥檚 fair provided a grand prize winner that could truly revolutionize one of the scariest and deadliest diseases, Ebola.

google science fair 2015

16-year-old Connecticut teen聽Olivia Hallisey beat out 22 other teenagers to take home the grand prize (a $50,000 scholarship) for her project, the聽Temperature-Independent, Portable and Rapid Detection of Ebola Via a Silk-Derived Lateral-Flow System. Wordy name, but her project is without a doubt going to change the way we are able to detect and diagnose Ebola.

Olivia Hallisey google science fair

How so? Let鈥檚 start with the current state of Ebola testing affairs. The methods used for diagnosing the deadly disease involve a lot of complexities, time and money. For example, with Olivia鈥檚 project Ebola聽testing would only cost $25 as opposed to today鈥檚 $1,000. Also, results would be determined in half an hour versus today鈥檚 12 hour standard. Olivia鈥檚 Ebola聽project is making those changes happen by creating a 鈥溾檚table and stored at room temperature鈥 temperature-independent Ebola Assay Card (EAC), which utilizes the stabilizing properties of silk fibroin to 鈥渂reak the cold chain鈥 and allow for water-activated detection of Ebola antigens, with detection limits that are analogous to current sandwich ELISA techniques. The EAC provides rapid, inexpensive, accurate detection of Ebola viral antigens based on color change within 30 minutes in individuals prior to their becoming symptomatic and infectious.鈥

Olivia鈥檚 secret ingredient, silk, could very well alter the way we diagnose Ebola, resulting in earlier detection and more lives saved. Way to go Olivia! Check out more about her project, as well as the nearly two dozen other teen projects on the Google Science Fair website.

What are your thoughts about Olivia鈥檚 Ebola tester? Share them with us in the comments.

(h/t HelloGiggles, photos via聽Andrew Federman + Google)