By Liz Juarez | Reporter
Young women like Megan Kroeker have always been hidden figures in the world of math and science.
But thanks to the critically acclaimed film “Hidden Figures,” PepsiCo and 21st Century Fox partnered to launch The Search for Hidden Figures, a scholarship contest to find the next generation of female leaders in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
The Search for Hidden Figures has since ended but Kroeker of Clovis was named a semifinalist out of a pool of 7,000 applicants for her STEM research idea of creating sanitizing drops to make ocean water drinkable for everyone.
“I just remember learning last year in my history class that cleaning ocean water is like a really long process, so a lot of cities that live near the ocean don’t have water, because the process of cleaning water is very expensive,” said Kroeker.
She hopes that the idea of creating these sanitizing water drops would not only eliminate the salty flavor, but clean it to make it drinkable.
Kroeker, 17, fell in love with math at a very young age, and was partly inspired by the teachers she had along the way as well as her father, who is a math teacher at Alta Sierra Intermediate School.
“When I was in second grade I had a teacher who really challenged us in math, and she introduced us to harder concepts at a younger age, like long division, which is something that second-graders usually don’t learn,” said Kroeker. “But having that experience, it just really showed me how I could accomplish those things.”
Kroeker hopes to follow in her father’s footsteps by becoming a high school math teacher, and already volunteers her time by tutoring her father’s class.
“I’m usually not asked for help very often just because they would rather go to one of my classmates who is a male, and has good grades in the class,” said Kroeker.
Often times, Kroeker feels she is overlooked because people assume that boys know more about math than girls do.
“There are a lot of girls out there who are really good at math, and a lot of people don’t expect it,” she said.
By finishing as a semifinalist, Kroeker said she hopes she can make an impact on young girls all over the valley and show them that they don’t have to come from a wealthy family or go to a special school to be good at math – you can go to school wherever you like, private or public, and still excel.