Niles teen selected for prestigious science fairPublished 9:00am Friday, May 9, 2014
Budding young inventor Bailey Bakerson envisions a world where people can be tested for allergies without going through an invasive and often uncomfortable procedure, such as the common skin prick test.
To that end, the Niles 15-year-old researched a new way for testing food allergies as part of a project at Andrew University’s Math and Science Center, where he goes to school as a freshman.
Bakerson’s research was so impressive that it earned him a trip to the International Science and Engineering Fair Sunday through May 16 in Los Angeles. It is the world’s largest international pre-college science competition, providing an annual forum for more than 1,700 high school students from over 70 countries, regions and territories to showcase their independent research and compete for more than $5 million in awards.
“When I found out I was the grand prize winner (at the state
science fair) I couldn’t believe it,” said Bakerson. “When I’m there I hope someone will want to work with me or sponsor my work. Hopefully it means I’ll have a finished project and, once I’m done, it can be sold into the medical field.”
Bakerson himself is allergic to shellfish, so this research hits close to home. Although he said he never underwent a skin prick test, Bakerson hopes his research will one day keep others from having to go through invasive testing.
For Bakerson’s test, a person submits his or her saliva, which is then placed into a petri dish where it is exposed to different allergens. The petri dish is sealed and, over time, a reaction occurs if the person is allergic.
“It is something that hasn’t been created or isn’t being used and it has the potential to be quicker, less expensive and less painful,” he said. “This test is completely outside of the body — the patient doesn’t have to feel anything or touch anything.”
Bakerson’s love of science developed at a very young age and progressed to the point where he was blowing up batteries and redesigning motors for a mixer in the name of research.
He hopes to one day become an inventor or an anesthesiologist.
“What I like about it is there’s multiple different things you can do with it and discover and invent for different fields,” he said.
Bakerson is a part of Niles Community Schools’ homeschool partnership program.