Scholastic News’ “8 Coolest Kids of 2013”

In Children's by Dennis Abrams


By Dennis Abrams

It’s almost Christmas, and it’s time (for at least a moment) to put away gloom and doom stories about the state of publishing, of Amazon’s push for global domination, about the demise of independent (and not so independent) bookstores…it’s time, I suspect, for some good news.

The editors of Scholastic News® today announced their list of the 8 Coolest Kids We Met in 2013, a roundup of the most inspiring, courageous, and innovative kids featured in the magazines this year. The classroom magazines that featured these standout kids include: Scholastic News – Grade 3, Junior Scholastic, Science World, The New York Times Upfront, Storyworks, and Choices.

“Year after year our editors capture the real-life stories of ordinary kids doing extraordinary things and present them through our classroom magazines knowing that the content resonates with young readers and helps teachers engage even the most reluctant readers,” said Hugh Roome, Executive Vice President and President, Consumer and Professional Publishing. “Teachers tell us that the added benefit is that these stories inspire students to pursue their own interests and act on the issues that matter most to them.”

The ‘8 Coolest Kids We Met in 2013’ are:

The Cancer Pioneer

Jack Andraka, a 16-year-old from Maryland, lost a close friend to pancreatic cancer, an aggressive cancer that typically goes undetected until it’s too late to treat. Determined to do something to fight back against the disease, Jack committed himself to finding a way to help the 40,000 people in the U.S. who die of pancreatic cancer each year. Previous tests for pancreatic cancer were too expensive to be used routinely. Jack worked with a lab at Johns Hopkins to develop a simple, inexpensive paper strip test that can detect heightened levels of a protein in the blood which is a strong indicator of cancer. Jack has applied for a patent on the test and hopes that it will become a part of routine health exams.

The Inventor

Justin Beckerman, an 18-year-old from New Jersey, always had a knack for building things so when he wanted to explore a lake near his house this year, he built himself a personal submarine. The Nautilus is a 9-foot long sub built out of plastic drainpipe. It can dive down to 30 feet and stay underwater for up to two hours. Justin’s parents had him install a horn which he honks every 30 seconds to let them know he’s OK! Justin plans to study engineering next year.

The Foodie

Georgia Catanese, a 14-year-old from New Jersey, has overcome many obstacles in her life, and her passion for cooking has helped her along the way. Georgia was born deaf and received cochlear implants as a baby. She still has a difficult time hearing, but she doesn’t let that get in her way! Georgia’s mom taught her how to cook as a young child, and she loved being in the kitchen creating dishes. When Georgia was 10, her mom passed away from cancer and her dad suffered a stroke a few months later. Georgia focused on cooking to get her though the tough times, finding healthy recipes to make for her dad and continuing to perfect the dishes that her mom taught her. Georgia shares her kitchen creations on her Facebook page and hopes that she will become the youngest chef on the Food Network!

The Survivor

Like so many others in the Northeast, 14-year-old Ariel Creamer’s family was affected by Hurricane Sandy. Their home in New York sits just a half a block away from the ocean and while the house sustained damage from the storm, the family was able to move back in ten days later. Many families in Ariel’s community lost everything, so she started an initiative called Survivors Silver Lining on Facebook to match those in need with donors who were willing to replace some of the things they lost. She has helped hundreds of people replace clothing, household items, books, toys and more since the storm. A video about Ariel’s cause can be seen here.

The Documentarian

Victor Feldman, a 15-year-old from New York State, attended high school this fall in Pune, India. He began documenting his experience for Junior Scholastic and The New York Times Upfront in September, and produced five videos about life in India – from culture and history to food and new friendships – which can be viewed here.

The Bionic Boy

Leon McCarthy, a 12-year-old from Massachusetts, was born without fingers on his left hand. This year, he took matters literally into his own hands by creating a prosthetic hand for himself. Using a 3-D printer, Leon and his dad printed the pieces of the hand from a blueprint and then assembled them into a working device. The fingers on the hand open and close as Leon moves his wrist, and he now has the dexterity to hold a pencil and draw pictures. He hopes to continue designing prosthetic devices for other kids like him.

The Healer

Vlad Romano, a 10-year-old from Connecticut, experienced a scary ride in an ambulance when he developed a high fever as a young child. When someone handed him a teddy bear to hold, he immediately felt calmer. Now Vlad is dedicated to helping other kids in emergency situations; he buys teddy bears for local fire departments to give to the kids they help, using money from the lemonade and apple cider stands he sets up in his hometown. Vlad has donated more than 400 teddy bears that will bring a smile to the face of a child in a stressful situation.

The Scientist

Have you ever met someone with an algae lab growing in their bedroom? If not, meet Sara Volz, an 18-year-old student from Colorado with a keen interest in biochemistry. Sara learned that oil from algae is a promising biofuel, but the cost of producing it is much higher than other sources. That’s why Sara set out to find a way to grow algae with higher oil content so that it would require less algae to produce a greater amount of fuel. Through a series of experiments she discovered a way to increase the amount of oil in a single algae plant and now plans to continue her research as a student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

For More information about Classroom Magazines, click here.

About the Author

Dennis Abrams

Dennis Abrams is a contributing editor for Publishing Perspectives, responsible for news, children's publishing and media. He's also a restaurant critic, literary blogger, and the author of "The Play's The Thing," a complete YA guide to the plays of William Shakespeare published by Pentian, as well as more than 30 YA biographies and histories for Chelsea House publishers.