WASHINGTON - A group of young high school girls from D.C. were bombarded with racist comments while competing in a NASA science competition that was targeted by hackers.
Mikayla Sharrieff, India Skinner, and Bria Snell, students at Benjamin Banneker High School are competing in NASA's Optimus Prime Spinoff Promotion and Research Challenge (OPSPARC) where they are working to design a system to remove lead from drinking water in schools.
Thank you so much for your support ❤️ pic.twitter.com/NVBzyydmbj— mikayla. (@Mmmikaylaaa__) April 30, 2018
According to FOX News, they were blasted with racist comments by anonymous online trolls on the website 4chan after reaching the finals of the competition.
The anonymous posters on 4chan said the work of the trio, who are the only all-black female team to make it to the final stage of the challenge, did not deserve to be among the finalists, adding that the African-American community only supported them because of their race.
FOX News said that one of trolls said they would consider hacking the voting system to give others, including a team of teenage boys, better odds of winning the competition.
NASA officials said hackers did make an attempt to change the vote totals during a period of public voting. The voting has since been disabled and officials will decide the winners themselves.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser awarded $4,000 to the group. "Through their brilliance and passion, Mikayla, India, and Bria are bringing our vision for In3 to life and making our city proud," Bowser said. "Mikayla, India, and Bria are just the type of people and scientists our world needs more of and we are proud to support their dreams."
Hello Everyone! My name is Mikayla Sharrieff & I am a junior at Banneker HS in D.C. my team and I have been selected as the 2018 NASA OPSPARC Challenge Finalists. Public voting starts today and we need YOUR vote! We are the only team from the east coast & female minority group! pic.twitter.com/b0TRFVyMMC— mikayla. (@Mmmikaylaaa__) April 23, 2018