Fourteen-year-old Alaina Gassler had noticed her mother struggling with blind spots while driving their family's car. Though not even old enough to drive herself, the Pennsylvania middle schooler designed a system that uses a webcam to display obstacles blocking a driver's line of sight to make driving safer.

Last week, that design project earned Gassler the $25,000 Samueli Foundation Prize, the top award in the 2019 Broadcom MASTERS (Math, Applied Science, Technology, and Engineering for Rising Stars) competition.

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via Anna Hesser / Flickr and Todd Lappin / Flickr

The earliest known attempts by humans to fly usually involved a person donning wings, like Daedalus and Icarus in Greek mythology. Countless people died in these attempts when they jumped off cathedrals and mountain tops only to discover their wings didn't work.

This attempt soon evolved into flying machines that looked similar to birds and in 1903, the Wright brothers were the first to take to the skies in an airplane.

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If popular culture is to be believed, there are a few great divides that are immutable. Yankees versus the Red Sox. Android versus iPhone. Technology versus nature. Never the two shall meet.

But that last one? Maybe we should stop taking it for granted. A new Dutch exhibition called Robotanica is exploring how technology and robotics in particular might play a collaborative role with the natural world. The curators have picked 11 different projects from designers, scientists, and artists that imagine how technology could blend with, and ultimately benefit, nature.

Some are real research projects or concepts, while others are more like conversation pieces. But all of them are fascinating ideas. Check them out below.

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Maia Weinstock knows a thing or two about women in science.

She's a science writer, researcher, and a deputy editor at MIT News, who fell in love with biology and astronomy at an early age. "I've always been interested in understanding how our world and universe works," Weinstock said.

She also has a self-described "mission" to inspire young girls to pursue science careers.

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