EAST BRUNSWICK – Kids Who Make Magic is a contest run by Magic 98.3 and sponsored by Saint Peter’s University Hospital. It highlights and recognizes local youth for community-oriented accomplishments on a weekly basis.
East Brunswick resident Shreya Dutt was recently named as a finalist for her volunteer work at the East Brunswick Public Library (EBPL). She hosts educational workshops where younger children can learn about different science-related topics.
Coincidentally, the library was Shreya’s first introduction to the township as a new resident.
“The East Brunswick Public Library was the first place I visited in town when we started to plan to move to East Brunswick. I remember how warm and kind the children’s librarian was and she showed me around and I loved the place,” Shreya said.
The warm welcome encouraged Shreya to get involved early on. Once she reached the required age for the library’s Teen Action Group (TAG), she signed up.
“Once I was old enough to join TAG, it got more exciting because I could volunteer and help out with library events. TAG helps with a lot of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) based activities at the library and it is a lot of fun,” she said.
But her involvement didn’t end there.
During the nationwide lockdowns of 2020, she says her love of science inspired her to start a YouTube channel named The MoleCOOL Scientist. On her channel, she creates videos showcasing and explaining the science behind different experiments and topics.
“For me, I love science and in 2020, during lockdown, I started a YouTube channel called ‘he MoleCOOL Scientist that I use to share fun science experiments I do at home. Our library loved it and made a playlist for me on their YouTube channel to share all the videos I create,” Shreya said.
She credits the library for not only encouraging her scientific endeavors, but for enabling her to share a passion with others both virtually and in person. Shreya said the look of amazement on the faces of her young audience is what makes it special.
“I wanted to run my MoleCOOL Scientist workshops and they helped me with that, too. I started with workshops on Zoom, but now I do them in person at the library. This is one of my favorite things to do at the library.
“I love to see the excitement on the kids’ faces when I show them how to make clouds in a jar, when a liquid changes color because of a chemical reaction, or when I pull out strawberry DNA from a beaker. The kids are so curious and amazed, and I really enjoy being a part of that,” she said.
Although it wasn’t the library that nominated her for the contest, she expressed gratitude for the platform it provided.
“While it was not a library nomination, I owe EBPL a lot for giving me a platform to help spread my love for science. It was great being recognized and I love the trophy, but more than that, it gives me the encouragement to do better. It also sets a good example for others to do good things for their community,” Shreya said.
In addition, she also directed her thanks and appreciation to the supportive community that surrounds her.
“I receive a lot of love, support and kindness from people around me and I am fortunate for that. I know that a lot of people can’t say the same, so I really appreciate what I have from my community. It is only fair that I give back in the small ways that I can to the best of my abilities,” she said.
Although Shreya is passionate about facts and science, she also says it’s important to focus on the intangible things in life, such as selflessness and kindness.
In a children’s book she wrote, “When Life Gives You Chocolate – A Book about Kindness,” she explains why it’s important to be kind.
“By reading this book, people can learn how new kids feel on their first day of school. They can learn how to be kind to others,; too.
“I have included inspiring quotes from all different kinds of people at the beginning of every section, and those quotes add depth to the story that follows in that chapter. I donate proceeds from sales to a local no-kill animal shelter, Sammy’s Hope,” she said.
As a ninth grader at Middlesex County’s Academy for Allied Health and Biomedical Sciences in Woodbridge, Shreya has plans to pursue a career in medicine or scientific research.
Despite the difficulties of the pandemic, the past two years have provided her with a unique opportunity to closely follow the healthcare professionals she aspires to be.
“I have always been fascinated by biology and I want to have a career in medicine or scientific research. During the past two years, I have learned a lot about epidemiology and viruses as I watched the news about scientists and doctors discussing COVID-19.
“I subscribe and follow epidemiologists like Dr. Katelyn Jetelina who explain our current healthcare situation with so much clarity and depth. Healthcare professionals and researchers like her continue to inspire me every day,” she said.
With her passion for science, supportive community, and access to quality education, Shreya hopes that one day she’ll also be contributing to the medical field.
“I also go to a high school that focuses on healthcare and biomedical sciences and I am surrounded by teachers and friends who are equally as passionate about this subject. I would love to contribute to the healthcare and medical field in the future,” Shreya said.
To see Shreya’s YouTube channel, visit https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzi117j_USDA_6OWtVVfJlQ
For more information on Shreya’s book, “When Life Gives You Chocolate – A book about Kindness,” visit https://shreyaduttbooks.weebly.com/