In the mountains above Boulder, Kyle Fridberg found something that is changing his life.
"I was on a bike ride in Gold Hill and I noticed this interesting looking vein of rock along the side of the road," Fridberg. "It was the color and also how soft the mineral was."
The Fairview High School senior has had a love of rocks since he was a kid. Fridberg took a sample of the black-stained rock home because he wanted to test it to determine what it is. He mixed it with sulfuric acid.
"It was in analyzing it that I discovered this super unexpected reaction," Fridberg said.
The reaction was a purple color that he says had never been cataloged before.
"Right off the bat, I thought there is a chance this is a new compound cause I couldn't find any references to it in the literature," Fridberg said.
He took his findings to Fairview High School Science Teacher Dr. Paul Strode.
"He said, 'Hey, I think I discovered something'," Strode said.
The result of the rocks he found mixed with the sulfuric acid created what Fridberg says is a compound that has never been created before.
"I called it Hydrogen Ferric Maganate Sulfate or HFMS for short," Fridberg said.
Fridberg also developed a new method of isolating the compound.
"That's why it hasn't been discovered before because nobody has been able to identify it," Fridberg said.
When Fridberg was a sophomore, he took a science research class with Strode giving him the foundation of scientific investigation.
"When a student like Kyle then takes that foundation and actually puts it to practice, that is really exciting," Strode said. "He was naturally curious, but he is also determined to do a really good job."
Fridberg spent much of the next year perfecting his research.
"There was a lot of failures - many, many months of failures," Fridberg said.
But, he stuck with it and is now reaping many successes. Last May, Fridberg entered the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair and won his category. This year, he is a finalist in the Regeneron Science Talent search already winning a $25,000 scholarship and a trip to Washington D.C. in March to find out if he wins the top prize of $250,000.
"I've never had to think about that amount of money before," Fridberg said.
This all started with a bike ride.
"To me, what's truly remarkable about Kyle is his perseverance and the fact that he saw something that looked funny and went after it," Strode said.
Something funny that has now turned into something very serious.
"There's a lot of potential derivatives of the compound that could be used to create more efficient or safer batteries," Fridberg said.
After he finds out if he wins the $250,000 prize, Fridberg will head to Harvard in the fall.
"It's hard to believe, but it's also kind of exciting," Fridberg said. "There's definitely that luck component. Like, had that not happened, I don't really know how my life would've played out."