REDMOND, Wash. – Some teenage students are doing big things with technology to help solve world problems. KIRO 7 met with a group of girls from Tesla STEM High School at the Microsoft Build conference in Seattle this week.  

“We’re not just in this bubble of the Redmond area,” 11th grader Roshni Srikanth told KIRO 7.  “We need to expand and see what’s happening globally and help people.”

The five 11th graders from Tesla STEM High School in the Lake Washington District got the invite to this week’s Microsoft Build conference in Seattle, in part because of problems they’re trying to solve, like improving the mental health of refugees.

“I built an app that used cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness principles that would help refugees who do have PTSD, depression, and anxiety,” Srikanth said.

The girls got to meet one of the stars of this year’s Microsoft Build, 18-year-old Brian Chiang, a freshman at UCLA. He won a $100,000 Azure grant in the Microsoft Imagine Cup.

Chiang is developing Easy Glucose, a blood sugar app for smartphones that was inspired by his grandmother, who has diabetes.

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“How she had to deal with the finger prick and all the struggles of managing this condition on a daily basis,” Chiang told KIRO 7. “That really struck a nerve with me.”

A lens adapter for your smartphone scans your eyes and determines your blood sugar level, which eliminates the need for a finger prick. KIRO 7 morning anchor John Knicely asked him what advice he has for the girls from Tesla High School.

“Really thinking really carefully about the problem,” Chiang said. “And making sure that what you’re making will actually help people and you’re not just making things for the sake of it.”

The girls from Tesla High School are doing just that with another solution they’re working on, a composting toilet. They’re planning a trip to India this summer for a pilot project and say innovation they saw this week at Microsoft Build is helping spur their ideas.

“Seeing how Edge and Cloud can be used in a variety of ways, not just technology related,” Srikanth said, “gave me the idea that, hey, maybe we can incorporate technology like that.”

Tesla STEM High School accepts about 150 students per year through a blind lottery.  There are no prerequisite STEM requirements to get in.  

Melissa Wrenchey, an educator at Tesla STEM, talked with KIRO 7 about how her students will fit in with all the new technology unveiled at Microsoft Build.

“It’s just kind of interesting to think, yes, we’re going to have a lot of automation,” Wrenchey said.  “But you still need that human touch.  And that’s where I see students solving real, authentic problems.” 

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