Sarah Park smiles beside her invention, SparkCare+
Sarah Park smiles beside her invention, SparkCare+

Music’s “Healing Power”

Sarah Park, age 14, wins the 3M Young Scientist Challenge.

One good thing about music — when it hits you, you feel no pain.

Singer Bob Marley sang those words in a 1971 song called “Trenchtown Rock.” Fifty years later, they’re as true as ever. Just ask 14-year-old Sarah Park. She invented a new type of music therapy. Her treatment uses songs to help people feel better. On Tuesday, Sarah won the 3M Young Scientist Challenge for her work. That makes her America’s Top Young Scientist!

“I knew the healing power of music,” explained Sarah. “My grandmother had some mental health issues,” she told News-O-Matic. “But when I started to play the violin, she started to release her positive emotions.” Sarah said that experience “really inspired me to start this project.”

So, Sarah got to work. She created a device that plays music — and can learn how the songs make the listener feel. The name of the device is SparkCare+, and it uses to understand the user. For example, it can tell whether the listener’s heart rate or blood pressure goes up or down. The device also asks the user to answer questions about the music.

“The sensors help track the emotional changes of the as they’re listening to the music,” said Sarah. She explained that she created “a machine learning model” to help SparkCare+ decide what to do next. In other words, the device pays attention to how the listener is feeling. Then it uses artificial intelligence to choose the next song based on that.

“SparkCare+ will be able to help everyone with mental health and emotional well-being,” said Sarah. The 9th-grader from Jacksonville, Florida, explained why her invention can support so many people. “It is a cost-effective, , and efficient mental health treatment using the healing power of music.”

Many people are struggling with mental health these days. This week, a group called the American Academy of Pediatrics called the mental health crisis for kids a “national emergency.” Sarah Park recognizes that this is a big issue. “It affects all of us,” she explained. “Especially during the pandemic, when there have been many stressful periods of time, we all have probably become more of our own mental health and well-being.”

Sarah hopes her invention can be a solution. She said, “I really hope that SparkCare+ will help many people with their mental health all over the world.” The young scientist also wants other kids to take action to help as well.

“Start by getting curious and asking questions about why things happen,” she suggested. “And once you start doing that, just go for it! Whether it’s big or small, every project can positively change and impact the world.”

Updated October 21, 2021, 5:03 P.M. (ET)
By Russell Kahn (Russ)

Sarah Park smiles beside her invention, SparkCare+
Sarah Park smiles beside her invention, SparkCare+

One good thing about music — when it hits you, you feel no pain.

Singer Bob Marley sang those words in a 1971 song called “Trenchtown Rock.” Fifty years later, they’re as true as ever. Just ask 14-year-old Sarah Park. She invented a new type of music therapy. Her treatment uses songs to help people feel better. On Tuesday, Sarah won the 3M Young Scientist Challenge for her work. That makes her America’s Top Young Scientist!

“I knew the healing power of music,” explained Sarah. “My grandmother had some mental health issues,” she told News-O-Matic. “But when I started to play the violin, she started to release her positive emotions.” Sarah said that experience “really inspired me to start this project.”

So, Sarah got to work. She created a device that plays music — and can learn how the songs make the listener feel. The name of the device is SparkCare+, and it uses to understand the user. For example, it can tell whether the listener’s heart rate or blood pressure goes up or down. The device also asks the user to answer questions about the music.

“The sensors help track the emotional changes of the as they’re listening to the music,” said Sarah. She explained that she created “a machine learning model” to help SparkCare+ decide what to do next. In other words, the device pays attention to how the listener is feeling. Then it uses artificial intelligence to choose the next song based on that.

“SparkCare+ will be able to help everyone with mental health and emotional well-being,” said Sarah. The 9th-grader from Jacksonville, Florida, explained why her invention can support so many people. “It is a cost-effective, , and efficient mental health treatment using the healing power of music.”

Many people are struggling with mental health these days. This week, a group called the American Academy of Pediatrics called the mental health crisis for kids a “national emergency.” Sarah Park recognizes that this is a big issue. “It affects all of us,” she explained. “Especially during the pandemic, when there have been many stressful periods of time, we all have probably become more of our own mental health and well-being.”

Sarah hopes her invention can be a solution. She said, “I really hope that SparkCare+ will help many people with their mental health all over the world.” The young scientist also wants other kids to take action to help as well.

“Start by getting curious and asking questions about why things happen,” she suggested. “And once you start doing that, just go for it! Whether it’s big or small, every project can positively change and impact the world.”

Updated October 21, 2021, 5:03 P.M. (ET)
By Russell Kahn (Russ)

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