Science whiz giving back: Cancer survivor hopes to spark interest in cancer research

Cancer survivor hopes to spark interest in cancer research (WKRC)

VILLA HILLS, KY. (WKRC) - A Northern Kentucky teenage science whiz is giving back to his community.

When 16-year-old Will Broomhead won a $1,500 science competition, he could have spent the money on himself, but instead, he decided to help hundreds of others.

Mr. Farrell's 7th-grade science class at Villa Madonna on Tuesday was part science and part origami.

Students were busy putting together “foldscopes”, which are portable, inexpensive, but high-quality microscopes.

“It works really well. Not only does it work with wet samples or dry samples. You can hook it up to your phone and see video from your phone,” said Jake Farrell, a science teacher at Villa Madonna.

You can see pond water, human blood, plant tissue and much more at the cellular level by holding it up to the light, all without the huge investment of a traditional microscope.

The foldscopes being assembled are a gift from 16-year-old Will Broomhead. When his essay won PBS's Emperor Science Award last year, he got the chance to work with cancer researchers, plus he won a $1,500 prize.

“When I got the stipend, it was to help you do the research with the doctors, and spending it on myself just didn't seem right,” said Will.

So, Will bought foldscopes for local science classes. Lots of foldscopes.

The Villa Madonna students are not the only ones getting the foldscopes. Will has donated 700 of them.

Six schools in Northern Kentucky and Lexington are getting the foldscopes and there is a method to Will Broomhead's generosity.

Broomhead is a cancer survivor and has been cancer-free for five years. He plans a career as a research oncologist. He figures the more people interested in science, the better chance of finding a cure for cancer.

“If something as simple as this foldscope can get someone interested in a medical career or in scientific research then every penny is truly worth it. Because while I may not be a great researcher one day, one of the 700 people I helped has a chance to be,” said Will.

You don't need a microscope to see the depth of that sentiment.

Will's 700 foldscopes are also going to students at Ockerman Middle School, Gray Middle School, St. Joseph's and Covington Latin.

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