Twin Falls High School student 1 of 300 receiving national science award

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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) - Twin Falls High School Senior Kylie Hansen is 1 of 300 students named as a scholar for a prestigious science competition. She is the only student in Idaho awarded.

"I won an award from the Regeneron Talent Search, which is the largest and most prestigious science research competition in the United States," Kylie said.

Candace Wright, a math and science teacher at Twin Falls High, said the competition has been going on for nearly 80 years.

"It used to be known as the Westinghouse Talent Search and several of their alums have gone on to receive amazing awards," Wright explained.

Kylie said she started liking astronomy and astrophysics in middle school, after volunteering at the Herrett Center.

"I got certified to operate their telescope there... I started some of my own research there that got me into some other opportunities," she said.

The talent search requires applicants to have a scientific research paper among other requirements and Kylie said she worked with a mentor from the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

"Together, we worked on something that has to do with gravitational microlensing, which is a phenomenon that deals with when you have an object in space, like a star or a planet, if you have some light behind it, the light will bend behind that object," she continued. "For some reason we look at this database that has a bunch of these things, and for some reason there are some events that they don't seem to be caused by anything, so we're trying to look at some of these events about what is causing them."

As a science enthusiast, she finds the field inspirational.

"I want to have an impact on the human race and I want to push forward and do something innovative. Astronomy is the easiest way to do this, because you're constantly pushing forward to the limits of the universe and there are so many different paths you can take."

The 300 scholar recipients receive $2,000 along with another $2,000 for their high school.

Wright has been Kylie's teacher for three years and she feels very proud of her.

"She deserves it. She's worked so hard and she is so passionate and enthusiastic about science, that it's just exciting to see her be able to continue on with that passion," Wright said.

She said they are not sure what they'll do with the reward yet as they just recently found out.

Kylie said she's been accepted to both the California Institute of Technology and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is leaning toward MIT.

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