Mary Masterman, 17, took first place in the Intel Science Talent Search this year. She built a working spectrograph, a tool used to characterize molecules, for $300. Commercial spectrographs cost more than three times that amount. For her maker ingenuity, Masterman won a $100,000 college scholarship. From the New York Times:
"The most challenging part was trying to get it to work," said Mary, who said she hoped to attend Stanford or the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
"I had to keep coming up with creative ways to adjust or change something," she said. "It took three months to build and another three months before it actually functioned properly."
Mary said she chose to build a spectrograph because of its many applications in forensics, medicine and artwork analysis.
UPDATE: Mary Masterman's Web site is here.