Middle school scientists recognized

Finalists in inaugural Broadcom MASTERS competition announced

Thirty talented sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders have raised the bar for the question, “Are you smarter than a middle schooler?” These science-minded youngsters have advanced to the final round of a new national competition, the first ever Broadcom Math, Applied Science, Technology and Engineering for Rising Stars program, or MASTERS event.

Finalists were chosen for their original research projects, which covered a range of scientific topics — from the cognitive benefits of yoga to the physics that gives light to LEDs. Following last year’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill, one student in Texas tested how oil and chemicals that disperse oil impact algae. Another used a computer simulation to investigate dark matter’s influence on rotating galaxies.

In October the selected students will travel to Washington, D.C., where they will present their projects to the public, visit Capitol Hill to meet members of Congress and vie for prizes in team challenges.

“Middle school is the time when a boy or girl first develops independent desires and interests,” says Paula Golden, executive director of Broadcom Foundation and director of community affairs for Broadcom Corp. “Engaging in a science or engineering project at this age may well ignite a passion that will inspire a middle schooler to stay with math and science.”

The 2011 Broadcom MASTERS is sponsored by the Broadcom Foundation and Society for Science & the Public, which publishes Science News. Past finalists of another competition administered by SSP — the annual Intel Science Talent Search for high school seniors — have gone on to win Nobel Prizes, among other accolades.

“In addition to launching science careers, SSP’s competitions motivate students to view the world through a scientific lens, essential for the navigation of issues that affect everyone in today’s complex global society,” says Elizabeth Marincola, president of SSP and publisher of Science News

In its first year, the Broadcom MASTERS program received 1,476 entries from students who were nominated by SSP-affiliated local science fairs in 45 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. A panel of scientists and engineers whittled the applicants down to 300 semifinalists.

Judges have now selected 30 finalists and one alternate, bringing good news for the participating schools: Each winner’s school will receive $1,000 from the Broadcom Foundation. A single overall winner, to be announced at an October 4 awards ceremony, will receive the top prize, a $25,000 educational award presented by the Samueli Foundation, a private foundation based in Corona Del Mar, Calif.

2011 Broadcom MASTERS Finalists

Meagen Bethel, Tucson, Doolen Middle School

Namrata Balasingam, San Jose, Challenger School, Strawberry Park
Braeden Benedict*, Rancho Palos Verdes, Saint John Fisher Parish School
Daniel Feeny, Woodside, Woodside Elementary School
Crystal Poole, San Diego, Thurgood Marshall Middle School

Maria Elena Grimmett, Jupiter, The Weiss School
Nikhil Patel, Geneva, Sanford Middle School

Robert Heckman, Kailua, Kailua Intermediate School
Jordan Kamimura, Hilo, Hilo Intermediate School

Nathan Han, Boston, Jackson Mann K-8 School
Emily Sarkisian, Mansfield, St. Mary’s Catholic School

Roshini Asirvatham, Rochester, Friedell Middle School
Carolyn Jons, Eden Prairie, Central Middle School

Justin Barber, Raleigh, St. Timothy’s School
Andrew Blonsky, Chapel Hill, Price Creek Independent School
Chad Campbell, Hampstead, Topsail Middle School

Coleman Kendrick, Los Alamos, Los Alamos Middle School

Kyle Davis, Sunbury, Big Walnut Middle School
Jennifer Markley, Westerville, Walnut Springs Middle School
Samantha Rowland, Tipp City, Tippecanoe Middle School

Valerie Ding, Portland, Summa North at Meadow Park Middle School
Anirudh Jain, Portland, Summa North at Meadow Park Middle School
Mahita Tovinkere, Portland, Stoller Middle School

Benjamin Hylak, West Grove, Sacred Heart School

Adriana Monzon, Guaynabo, Academia del Perpetuo Socorro

William White, Hilton Head, Hilton Head Preparatory School

Ria Chhabra, Plano, Renner Middle School
Alicia D’Souza, Plano, C.M. Rice Middle School
Lauren Hall, Corpus Christi, School of Science and Technology
I-Chun Lin, Plano, Schimelpfenig Middle School

Katherine Landoni, Sequim, Sequim Middle School

*Elected not to compete

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