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South Bay Teen Wins $150,000 Intel Science Prize For Life-Saving Invention

SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) – As if the pressures of high school aren't stressful enough, one Cupertino senior is doing more than getting good grades. She has created a life-saving invention that has earned her a top recognition.

Presentation High in San Jose is an all-girls school that defies the stereotype that women aren't interested in science and engineering. So when their star pupil, Maya Varma, missed school most of this week, she had a pretty good reason.

"This is, like, the biggest award in science fairs that you can receive, and she just won it," said Diane Rosenthal, who teaches advanced physics at Presentation. And she's a woman, to boot, which we love!"

Maya just won the Intel Science Talent Search, often referred to as the "Junior Nobel Prize." And she did it by inventing something the world actually needs.
"I've created a smart-phone based pulmonary function analyzer that can be used by people all over the world," Maya told KPIX 5.

With parts costing only about $35, the high school senior developed a lung analyzer for sick people in developing countries. Her classmates said they're not surprised she's helping others. They say the only thing as big as her heart is her amazing intellect.

"We all know she's one of the smartest people ever, like ever!" exclaimed Aarushi Sharma, Maya's friend and classmate.

The teachers in her advanced science classes say it can get a bit intimidating when Maya raises her hand, but they say her true genius lies in her humanity.

"I really do think it comes from a place of passion, not just straight intelligence," said Nicole Ralston, Maya's advanced computer sciences teacher.

So, now the school is bursting with pride over its new celebrity classmate.

The first-place award comes with a $150,000 college scholarship, which will come in handy since Maya is considering attending Harvard or Stanford in the fall.

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