This Seventh Grader Used Antioxidants in Green Tea to Fight Cancer

If this isn't the coolest science fair project ever, we're not sure what is!

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The point of a science fair is to get kids interested in the subject so they can one day make life-improving discoveries. But Stephen Litt, a seventh grader living near Atlanta, isn't following the traditional timeline: According to CNN, the 12-year-old's project, submitted to the annual Georgia Science and Engineering Fair, used an antioxidant found in green tea to fight cancer.

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For his experiment, Stephen split up a sample of 100 planaria (a type of flatworm) into four groups, with each group assigned a specific condition: The first group was exposed to epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), the phytochemical found in green tea; the second group was exposed to EGCG for 24 hours and then exposed to carcinogens for the rest of the four-week experiment; the third group was exposed to carcinogens only; and the fourth group served as a control, exposed only to spring water.

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After analyzing each of the worms under the microscope (a gift from his grandparents), Stephen found that the worms exposed to both EGCG and carcinogens never developed tumors, while some of the worms exposed to carcinogens did.

We're seriously impressed by Stephen, who was inspired to conduct this experiment in part by two family friends who had been diagnosed with breast cancer, as well as an article he read about decreased rates of cancer in Japan (where green tea is very popular).

His chemist dad, Lesley Litt — who helped Stephen with the experiment by mixing the carcinogens so as not to expose his son to them — is seriously impressed, too.

"He really wants to share what he knows and help people," he told CNN. "I'm seriously humbled. It's an odd feeling to be humbled by your own child. You ask yourself, where did he come from? He has something remarkable."

Now, technically, Stephen isn't the first to discover the potential cancer-fighting properties of green tea. Past studies have also come to similar conclusions. But that doesn't make his findings or his research skills any less impressive — just ask Tufts!

That's right: The staff at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, was so impressed by Stephen's work that they invited the 12-year-old to come tour the campus research labs during his spring break. And as you might guess, Stephen was completely enamored by everything he saw.

"I'd never actually been to a professional lab before so I thought that was just the most cool part about it," he told ABC News. "I was looking at experiments actually being done."

Here's hoping this young scientist stays curious!

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