The claim: A 14-year-old student built an atomic bomb as a science project
A viral post on social media claims a 14-year-old student created an atomic bomb as her science project and was awarded a blue ribbon.
“14-year old student builds an atomic bomb as a science project,” reads a March 28 Facebook post, with over 800 shares and almost 400 reactions, by the page Tech, Science & Innovation.
Below the text is an image of a girl holding a blue ribbon and posing in front of her purported science project. The post also includes a meme of a disappointed man with the text, “that boy who got arrested for making a clock that his school thought was a bomb.”
The same meme was shared on March 28 to the Facebook group Zoom Meme for Self Quaranteens. Similar versions of the claim have been previously shared to Reddit and iFunny.co.
USA TODAY reached out to the Facebook page and user for comment.
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Claim started as satire
The claim that a 14-year-old created an atomic bomb as her science project first appeared on the satirical site World News Daily Report in an article with 358,000 Facebook shares. The text and image seen in the Facebook meme matches the one included in the article.
A disclaimer at the bottom of the site states that World News Daily Report “assumes all responsibility for the satirical nature of its articles and for the fictional nature of their content.”
It adds that any characters included in the articles on the site “are entirely fictional and any resemblance between them and any person, living, dead or undead, is purely a miracle.” A headline at the top of the site also reads, “Where facts don’t matter.”
The image used in the article was edited using a photo from April 2014 of students at a science and engineering fair at Washington State University.
The students won first place for their project that reduced gluten strength in bread, according to an article from Washington State.
The photo of the girl holding the ribbon was combined with an image of a deaerator system, which dissolves gases such as oxygen in the boiler feedwater, according to Novatherm.
USA TODAY has previously debunked false claims that originate from the World News Daily Report.
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Our rating: False
The claim that a 14-year-old built an atomic bomb as a science project is FALSE, based on our research. The screenshot comes from a satirical website and the image included in the post has been altered from a 2014 photo of students at the Science and Engineering Fair at Washington State University.
Our fact-check sources:
- World News Daily Report, accessed April 1, “14-YEAR OLD STUDENT BUILDS AN ATOMIC BOMB AS A SCIENCE PROJECT”
- Washington State University, April 14, 2014, “Young scientists earn top honors for bread experiment”
- Novatherm.com DeOxy, accessed April 1, “Deaerator System”
- USA TODAY, July 29, 2020, “Fact check: Scientists didn’t create Tyrannosaurus rex embryo with chicken DNA”
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Our fact check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.
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