Can a science fair project change the world? It’s happened before, and with the Google Global Science Fair announcing their finalists for 2014 last week, we’re wondering if a young teen from Illinois may just be on the cusp of something amazing. Trisha Prabhu’s idea was a simple yet brilliant one: Knowing that the prefrontal cortex (the area of the brain responsible for both decision-making and moderating social behavior) isn’t fully formed until age 25 or so, and knowing that online bullying among teenagers is rampant, could a “prompt” of some sort to slow down and consider a potentially hurtful message before posting alter kids’ behavior?
Her study showed an overwhelming result: given the prompt to reconsider, almost all of her subjects opted not to post nasty comments to social media. Prabhu is now looking into how to turn Rethink into an actual product. If nothing else, it sure makes us happier to see confirmation that teens are impulsive a lot more often than they’re just plain mean.