On May 21, the 13 finalists of the $50,000 Scientific American Science in Action award, powered by the Google Science Fair, were announced. In this blog series, we shed light on the students behind the projects. On June 6, the winner of the Science in Action award will be announced.

Katherine Zimmerman, a 16 year-old from Bradenton, Fla., U.S.

Project: A Solar Powered Water Purification System

Why did you decide to enter the Google Science Fair?

I decided to enter the Google Science fair because science is my passion. I have been competing in science fairs since elementary school, and in 9th and 10th grade, I won the Best of Show award at the Manatee Regional Science and Engineering Fair. I traveled twice to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, first to Los Angeles, California, and then to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. When I heard about the Google Science Fair, I decided to enter my project because I wanted my scientific work to be read about and recognized, and I also wanted to see where my project stands, compared to other bright young scientists throughout the world.

If you could have dinner with any three scientists throughout time, whom would you choose?

If I could have dinner with any three scientists throughout time, I would choose Marie Curie, Rosalind Franklin and Albert Einstein. Marie Curie is one of the most famous women scientists in history, and is recognized for her discovery of the element Radium, and her research with radioactivity. I would also choose Rosalind Franklin. She is famous, although not fully recognized for her work, for the discovery of the DNA structure, and X-ray crystallography. Lastly, I would choose Albert Einstein, the father of modern physics.

If you could travel through time, what one invention or discovery would you want to introduce 100 years ahead of schedule and why?

If I could travel through time, I would introduce penicillin to the world 100 years ahead of schedule. The discovery of antibiotics has improved the quality of life and life expectancy all over the world.

What is your favorite hobby?

My favorite hobby is ballet. I have been dancing ballet at the Sarasota School of Ballet for 12 years.

Ricardo Enrique Alba Torres, 17, and Jessica Bibiana Alba Torres, 15, from Bogat , Columbia

Project: Collecting Rainwater in Used PET Containers

What does being recognized as a Science in Action Award finalist mean to you?

This recognition gives us great satisfaction and happiness. It is amazing to know that our work was one of 90 regional finalists among thousands of projects worldwide. It is even more gratifying to see that we are the only representatives of our country, Colombia, Latin America to be acknowledged as a finalist for the Science in Action award. We are very proud of what we have achieved and hope it will serve as an example for a new generation of students. Ricardo

It is the greatest accomplishment we have achieved with our project. Being nominated, I am already a winner. Jessica

Who are your scientific inspirations and why?

My dad and my mom are my scientific inspirations. They have given me all the love to enrich myself and have fuelled my interest in the environment. Jessica

Since we were young our parents taught us to love and care for the planet Earth. Our mother, being a Natural Science teacher, gave us a love for this knowledge. Our father, an architect, inspired us to work on sustainable eco-efficient projects. Ricardo

What is your favourite hobby?

I like playing tennis and playing video games. Ricardo

I enjoy singing, dancing, reading, listening to music and playing tennis. Jessica

Sumit Singh, a 14 year-old from Lucknow, India

Project: Vertical Multi-Level Farming

How does your project impact the community you grew up in?

I grew up in India. A large number of people here are poor farmers who have small plots of land and get low yield. My project tries to increase their yield and helps in improving their life.

If you could travel through time, what one invention or discovery would you want to introduce 100 years ahead of schedule and why?

Asteroid Mining. The topic caused a sensation in the press recently. It would be very helpful for the development of all the countries.

Who are your scientific inspirations and why?

I have been inspired by the lives of several scientists especially Thomas Edison whose story of failing a thousand times has deeply inspired me.

Do you have a favourite band or song?

Favourite Songs- This Is It (Michael Jackson), Baby You’re a Rich Man (The Beatles)