Jasmine Roberts

Jasmine Roberts is a 12-year-old science whiz who made headlines with the startling results from her seventh grade science fair project. After reading an article about airline ice that contained bacteria, Jasmine decided to check out the quality of ice at popular fast food restaurants.

After carefully collecting specimens for testing, Jasmine took them to a lab at the University of South Florida. When the results were in, she was speechless. "I found that 70 percent of the time, the ice in the fast food restaurants contained more bacteria than their toilet water," Jasmine says.

Dr. Juan Martinez, assistant professor of microbiology at the University of Chicago, confirmed Jasmine's results in his laboratory. The contaminated ice contained E. coli bacteria that most likely came from unsanitary practices or unclean water lines. Although most strains of E. coli are harmless and live in the intestines of healthy humans, some strains are dangerous and cause illness. "I think you're better off not taking ice with [a drink]," says Dr. Martinez.
Justus Roberts

Justus, Jasmine's brother, is also a science whiz! He's working on groundbreaking stem cell research at the University of South Florida in Tampa. Through his work, Justus says he has found a treatment using umbilical cord blood stem cells that can be administered to stroke victims to "reduce the inflammation and put the organs back to its original state." "Hopefully with my results, human umbilical cord blood stem cells can be used as a treatment for [human] stroke victims," Justus says.

Minnie and Justus Sr. are the proud parents of Jasmine and Justus. They say education was always a top priority for their children. "When they were young, we noticed that they really liked science and math, so we actually fed it to them," says Justus Sr. "We'd take them to science museums—we gave them exposure to different environments—and this is the result we have now."
Noah McCullough

Noah McCullough has been called a presidential prodigy. Even though he's only in fifth grade, he plans to run for President of the United States in 2032. While most kids are at summer camp, this 11-year-old whiz kid went on a 10-state tour in 2005 to lobby for social security reform. Having read over 250 books about the commanders-in-chief, Noah impresses with his vast knowledge of presidential trivia. He's had the opportunity to challenge some of the biggest names in politics on presidential trivia—and he usually wins!

Noah says his interest in American presidents began during the 2000 presidential election when he was only 5 years old. "There was a mock election in my school and I wanted to learn more and actually vote for the real reasons, like adults do," says Noah. He wishes more kids were excited about the American government. "I think we need to get kids interested in history to be able to be appreciative of their country," Noah says.
Jennifer Lin on the piano

Jennifer Lin is an extraordinary young pianist whose talents were brought to center stage by the late news anchor Peter Jennings. Her parents first realized they had a prodigy the day Jennifer sat down and started playing the piano at the age of four. When most children were learning to read, Jennifer was astounding friends and family by composing her own music. By the time she hit 10, Jennifer was winning awards in major music competitions, often beating people twice her age. She's not only a gifted pianist—she is a straight-A student and a self-taught artist. Now 16, Jennifer is believed to be one of the most talented musical geniuses in the country.

After wowing the audience with a performance of Franz Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 6, Jennifer creates an original composition on the spot using fives notes selected at random by Oprah.

Johnny Wilson

In 2005, nine-year-old Johnny Wilson set a new world record by becoming the youngest person ever to make the 1.4 mile-long swim across the treacherous waters of the San Francisco Bay. To prepare for his record-breaking swim, Johnny trained for two years followed by three months of conditioning to get used to the freezing temperatures in the Bay.

To get motivated, Johnny decided to raise money for every quarter mile of his swim and donate it to the survivors of Hurricane Katrina. On top of setting the world record, Johnny raised a grand total of $50,800 in donations—proving one small person can make a big splash!
Jason McElwain

Senior Jason McElwain was the basketball team manager at Greece Athena High School in Rochester, New York. Although Jason, who has autism, was happy on the sidelines, he always dreamed of playing on the court. As a reward for his years of dedication, Coach Johnson, who headed the team, let Jason suit up for his very last home game—not to play, but to know what it feels like to be on the team. Then, with four minutes left in the game, Coach Johnson shocked the crowd by calling Jason to the floor. For the first time, he was a varsity player.

Jason's first two shots went nowhere near the basket. His third, though, was a 20-foot three pointer. The fans went wild, and Jason was just getting started. In four minutes, the kid who had struggled with autism his whole life and never played in a high school varsity game sunk six three-pointers! When Jason's last shot went in at the buzzer, the crowd stormed the court, and Jason's teammates carried their hero on their shoulders.
Jason's parents and Coach Johnson

Jason's parents, Debbie and Dave, say they couldn't be more proud of their son. Dave says one of the greatest moments was "watching the kids start cheering, chanting [Jason's] name."

Coach Johnson says he put Jason in the game to reward him for his dedication and hard work. "He came to every practice, he came to many off-season things for us, so it was a way that I could give him a gift back for all the things he gave us," Coach Johnson says.

After Jason made his third shot in a row, Coach Johnson says everyone was overjoyed. "I was just sitting on the bench in complete disbelief with tears running down my face," he says.
Anurag Kashyap, 2005 spelling bee champion

Of all these young geniuses, 14-year-old Anurag Kashyap from Poway, California, probably had the biggest single-day live audience watching him. In June 2005—with 11 million people watching on ESPN—Anurag won the 78th Scripps National Spelling Bee, beating 272 other competitors.

Anurag's winning word was "appoggiatura." According to Merriam-Webster's Dictionary, this mouthful of a word means, "an embellishing note or tone preceding an essential melodic note or tone and usually written as a note of smaller size."

How did this eighth-grader acquire this special skill, and who encouraged him to study for three to four hours a day? "My mom introduced me to my first spelling bee [in fourth grade]. My teachers often said I should just try it," Anurag says. "Ever since then I was interested in the spelling bee."

Want to know more about the intense thrill of the National Spelling Bee? Meet the cast of Akeelah and the Bee, a movie about a young girl from a tough L.A. neighborhood who enters the National Spelling Bee.