March-April 2012 | Education

Top Teens 2012

Bethesda Magazine's 2012 Extraordinary Teen Awards.

Photo by Jonathan TimmesDaniel Liss

Senior, Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

This 17-year-old from Silver Spring has brought home a slew of top science honors. As a sophomore, Daniel Liss won a gold medal at the International Environmental Project Olympiad in Istanbul, Turkey, and a bronze at the International Sustainable World Project Olympiad in Houston, Texas. His junior year, he won top honors at the Montgomery County Science Fair and was invited to present his project at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Los Angeles—where he won an award from the U.S. Air Force. He represented Maryland that same year at the National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium in San Diego, where he won the People’s Choice Award.

Daniel has three inventions with patents pending: a sustainable, inexpensive method for food storage (featured on the Environmental Protection Agency’s blog); a method for creating holograms using ordinary light rather than lasers; and a gyroscope that increases its rotational speed without batteries or an external force.

Other accomplishments: Co-editor-in-chief of the school newspaper, he took first place in individual news writing from the Maryland/D.C. Scholastic Press Association. He was awarded a Samberg Family History Program Fellowship in 2008 and a Bronfman Youth Fellowship in Israel last summer.

Most recently he began the First Laptop Project, getting graduating seniors who are upgrading their computers to donate their old models to low-income students.

What others say: Dr. Leda Cummings, director of science education and outreach at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, says Daniel stood out when he interned and took class there. “It is very unusual to see someone with that level of inquisitiveness and dedication to figuring things out,” she says. “He will be an awesome scientist in whatever field he chooses.”

What his future holds: Daniel plans to continue his scientific research. He is working this semester at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, helping test a technique for taking longer-range pictures of the universe.