16 Under 16 in STEM: California Teen Harnesses His Anxiety for the Greater Good

Zidaan Kapoor combines his love of math with anxiety from having severe allergies to create an app that allows users to take control of their fears

This summer we’ve been celebrating America’s 16 under 16 in STEM — young learners who have already made a meaningful mark in their schools and communities. 

Today, we give center stage to Zidaan Kapoor, a homeschooled 15-year-old from Redwood City, California who knows a thing or two about the anxiety that comes with having food allergies. Zidaan was diagnosed with life-threatening food allergies when he was just a toddler, but it wasn’t until his most recent bout that he truly understood the dangers. 

“The aftermath was something I never experienced,” he says. “It was debilitating anxiety.  I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t trust my family members [to prepare food for me].”

So he developed an app called Fight Fears to solve this problem for both himself and his peers. Through a series of questions, the app analyzes the user’s anxiety level. Based on that, users get challenges to complete to quell that anxiety, with the goal of allowing users to feel more in control of their allergy fears. Zidaan also founded and operates a math and chess tutoring business for other youth.

But right now, he says he’s most concerned about social justice, climate change and mental health: “I’m kind of using all of this as a baseline to move forward in a way that I can discover as I move along.”

See our full interview — and celebrate our full 2022 class! 

—Video edited by James Fields and produced by Emmeline Zhao

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