Mission CISD had over 2,000 students gather at the Palm Valley Church Auditorium to hear a special message by nationally recognized scientist, inventor, innovator, speaker, Jack Andraka. At 15 years-old he became a sensation when he won the 2012 International Science and Engineering Fair. His project consisted of a whole new way to detect pancreatic cancer.

Andraka spoke to 4th to 12th grade students who are primarily involved in STEM related or robotics programs about his journey and how it all started. He was sitting in his high school classroom listening to the daily lesson on antibodies when he had the idea of creating a way to detect pancreatic cancer in its much earlier stages. He realized when early on that in order to conduct scientific experiments, he was going to need a more extensive lab. He contacted 200 professors from John Hopkins University and one responded and he told Andraka that he could use his lab.

According to Andraka, he wanted a simpler and more affordable test to detect pancreatic cancer. The current test is not only expensive but the percentage of accuracy is not very high. He set out to develop a strip, similar to a diabetic test strip to measure the levels of mesothelin the suspected cancer biomarker that was faster and more accurate than the current test that is available.

Today, he is 19 years old and attends Stanford University, has authored three books, is a National Geographic Emerging Explorer who speaks to audiences of all ages, about his personal story, research, and ideas on STEM education reform. He is a true innovator that encourages students, and inspires them to change the world.