Margaret Eby
September 25, 2014 12:28 pm

An amazing team of teenage girls won top honor’s at Monday’s Google Science Fair with a project that identified a potential way to end world hunger.

Emer Hickey, 16, Ciara Judge, 16, and Sophie Healy-Thow, 17, a team from Kinsale, Ireland won the Grand Prize with their project, which stemmed from an observation that Hickey made while gardening. The teenager noticed a grouping of nodules on the roots of a pea plant, and examined them to find that they were full beneficial bacteria that helped the plant survive.

Hickey, Judge, and Healy-Thow set up a lab in a spare bedroom to study the effect of the bacteria, called rhizobia, on barley seeds, and found that the bacteria helped seeds germinate rather than simply rot in the ground. The girls figured out that the bacteria germinated seeds at a 50% increased rate, resulting in 74% more food production.

“It has a lot of implications,” Hickey told Scientific American. “By the year 2050 we actually need 50 percent more food just to feed everyone.” The bacteria may help resolve some of the pervasive food shortages in the world eventually.

Their prize? A $50,000 scholarship and a ten-day trip to the Galapagos Islands, plus inspiring thousands of girls everywhere to make an impact in the fields of math and science.

“We’re not even finished yet,” Hickey said. They sure aren’t.

Check out their science fair entry video where they explain their project—you know, the one that could END WORLD HUNGER. Amazing.

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