Date
18 December 2017
Wu She-kei (right) shows her affordable test using MSG to detect heavy metal in water. At left, she receives her science award. Photos: cast.org.cn, Sky Post
Wu She-kei (right) shows her affordable test using MSG to detect heavy metal in water. At left, she receives her science award. Photos: cast.org.cn, Sky Post

Hong Kong teen wins top China science prize

A 17-year-old Hong Kong student has won a top science prize in China for her research into monosodium glutamate (MSG), Sky Post reported Monday.

Wu She-kei, a secondary six student at St. Paul’s Convent School in Causeway Bay, beat more than 600 others in the competition organized by the Ministry of Education, China Association of Science and Technology and other institutions. 

Wu found that MSG, a popular food enhancer, can be used to detect heavy metal in water using a method that costs just HK$7 (90 US cents).

By comparison, laboratories typically spend at least HK$100,000 for a piece of equipment to conduct the test, the report said.

Wu’s discovery had already won several awards, including the China Adolescents Science and Technology Innovation Contest.

It was inspired by Chinese efforts to fight water contamination from heavy metals which poses serious health risks.

The discovery has made it possible for ordinary people to be tested for traces of heavy metal in their system.

Wu found that MSG can detect five types of heavy metal and their concentration simply by their color when mixed with water. 

She plans to participate in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, the world’s largest international pre-college science competition, in May next year.

Wu said she will take the Hong Kong diploma of secondary education examination next year but has no plans to study abroad.

She hopes to join the medical faculty of the University of Hong Kong in the future.

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