Meet Sarah Park, ‘America’s Top Young Scientist’ using music to treat mental health disorders

Morning In America

(NewsNation Now) — They are our future leaders and inventors, the thousands of students nationwide vying for the title of “America’s Top Youngest Scientist.”

In the end, 10 finalists were chosen, each presenting a solution to an everyday problem.

The winner gets the cool title, but also $25,000.

On Tuesday night, 14-year-old Sarah Park from Jacksonville, Florida, was named the winner of the annual Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge.

Her project focused on personalized music therapy for those who suffer from mental illness.

“So I created a device called Spark Care+, which right now is in a wristband form and it aims to help people with mental health and emotional well-being,” Sarah said during an appearance on “Morning in America“.

Sarah’s winning idea aims to use music instead of medication as a treatment for people with mental health disorders.

“Using the healing power of music,” Sarah joyfully elaborates as she details how her project works.

The two sensors that Spark Care+ utilizes are galvanic skin response (GSR) and photoplethysmography (PPG).

“The galvanic skin response basically monitors the emotional changes of the participant, which are used to monitor the participant as they’re listening to the music,” Sarah says explaining the technical aspects of her project.

“But on the other hand, the photoplethysmography sensor and, in short, the PPG sensor tracks the heart rate of the participant which also shows the emotional changes of the participant.”

Sarah was inspired to help people with mental health after her grandmother suffered from a related condition.

“When I first started to play music and violin, she really started to release her positive emotions,” Sarah said about her grandmother. “And then I started to do more research and I really found that music can be the healing power to help with mental health. So I connected that with science and created Spark Care+.”

When asked how she was going to spend her winnings, Sarah said, “I feel super honored and it feels surreal to be named as America’s top young scientist.”

“I’m so humbled by this experience. I really hope to keep on developing Spark Care+ and hopefully go on to manufacturing and spread the healing power of music.”

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