This Virginia student was named 'America's Top Young Scientist' for creating a soap that treats cancer

A 14-year-old Virginia student has been named "America's Top Young Scientist" after developing a compound-based bar of soap designed to treat skin cancer.

Heman Bekele from Annandale won the 2023 3M Young Scientist Challenge. The competition invited middle school students from across the nation to identify an everyday problem and submit a short video communicating the science behind their solution.

Bekele entered the competition while at Frost Middle School in Fairfax County. He said it took him about eight months to create the idea, a basic prototype, and finish the video.

"It's so crazy, it's so surreal to even think about it right now!" he told FOX 5. He said he was drawn to the competition to work on a fun science project but quickly realized that it gave him a platform for his creativity and innovation.

"The most difficult part was probably creating that first prototype," Bekele said. The best was pressing the submit button and seeing all his work finally come together.

Bekele says his soap is charged with cancer-fighting chemicals that treat the skin. He says he hopes to one day start a non-profit organization where he can provide equitable and accessible treatment to as many people as possible.

He credits his support system of teachers, mentors, family, and friends for helping him succeed.

14-year-old Va. student Heman Bekele named Americas Top Young Scientist for cancer treating soap