A 10-Year-Old Science Legend

Clara Lazen discovers a new molecule

Feb 23, 2012

Professor Robert Zoellner pictured with a model of the new molecule, discovered by fifth-grader Clara Lazen. (Image: Humboldt University Now website)

Humboldt State University’s magazine, Now, recounts the mesmerizing story of a classroom assignment that became a scientific discovery:
Clara Lazen, a fifth-grader, was just doing her Chemistry classwork, constructing molecules with modeling kits, when she randomly assembled a whole new combination of oxygen, nitrogen and carbon atoms. Her teacher, Kenneth Boehr, had a hunch his protege may had been on to something. So he contacted Humboldt University Chemistry Professor Robert Zoellner, who confirmed that this was in fact a valid combination, which represents a molecule, now called “tetranitratoxycarbon”.
The new findings made it into a scientific paper published in Computational and Theoretical Chemistry magazine, with Lazen credited as co-author.
As they say, this is too cool for school.

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