When Fair Means Superb: Young scientists and engineers meet in international competition

A record 1,447 high school students from 45 countries shone their brightest in sunny Phoenix last week as they competed for more than $3 million in scholarship money, trips, and other prizes at the 2005 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF).

CELEBRATING SCIENCE. Amidst falling confetti, the winners of grand-prize awards at the 2005 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair were (from left to right) Ahmeed Abdulrasool, Gabrielle Gianelli, and Stephen Schulz. Feature Photo Service

Judges spotlighted the brightest ideas from a spectrum of sophisticated experiments and inventions.

The Fair’s top prize, the Intel Foundation Young Scientist Award, went to three students: Ahmeed Abdulrasool of Lane Technical High School in Chicago, Stephen Schulz of the Comprehensive School, Buer Center in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, and Gabrielle Gianelli of Lake Highland Preparatory School in Orlando, Fla. Each won a $50,000 scholarship.

Abdulrasool, 18, said that he was inspired by his blind father to invent a navigational system for people who are visually impaired. The portable system uses Global Positioning System technology, vibrating bracelets, and verbal signals to tell a person his or her location.

Schulz, 19, manufactured synthetic flavonoids, which are plant-based chemicals that may fight cancer and other diseases in people, and developed a new way to measure the effects of these molecules.

Using data gathered by the Mars Global Surveyor satellite, Gianelli, 17, analyzed geological features on Mars and found signs of an ancient ocean coastline.

In addition to their scholarships, Abdulrasool and Schulz won trips to Stockholm for the Stockholm Youth International Science Seminar, which culminates in the Nobel prize ceremonies in December. Joining them will be Daniel Ratai, 19, of John von Neumann Computer Science High School in Budapest, who developed a technique to create an inexpensive personal computer displaying a three-dimensional image.

Chad Schlottmann and Michael Olson, both 18, of Gold Beach High School in Oregon, will go to the International Youth Science Exhibition in Santiago, Chile, in July. Their research explored how fertilizer applied after a forest fire affects tree seedlings.

Traveling to Moscow in September for the European Contest for Young Scientists will be Pen-Yuan Hsing, 18, and Wei-Kang Huang, 18, of Taipei Municipal Lishan Senior High School in Taiwan. The pair also won the best-team-project award for finding a new way to use sound waves to cool microelectronic devices.

The top performer in each of the competition’s 14 science-topic categories received a $5,000 scholarship and an Intel laptop computer, while their schools and fair directors each received $1,000. Besides Hsing and Huang, category winners included Abdulrasool for the behavioral and social sciences, Gianelli for space science, Schulz for chemistry, and Ratai for computer science. Other best-of-category awards went to Lesley Elizabeth Ash, 17, of Tucson Magnet High School, for zoology; Andrew John Friskop, 18, of Hankinson (N.D.) High School, for botany; Jeffrey M. Bhasin, 18, of Rocky River (Ohio) High School, for medicine and health; Michael Segal, 17, of Central High School in Philadelphia, for biochemistry; Kledin Dobi, 16, of Julia R. Masterman High School in Philadelphia, for mathematics; Stephen Goodwin Honan, 16, of W.T. Woodson High School in Fairfax, Va., for environmental science; Nicholas Robert Apau Jachowski, 18, of West Potomac High School in Alexandria, Va., for earth science; Ryan Thomas Olson, 18, of Southwest Virginia Governor’s School in Dublin, Va., for engineering; Benjamin Albert Swank, 17, of James Madison High School in Vienna, Va., for microbiology; and Michael J. Pizer, 17, of University School of Milwaukee, for physics.

“Intel ISEF reflects what can happen when students are encouraged to pursue a passion and investigate the world around them,” says Craig Barrett, chief executive of Intel Corp. in Santa Clara, Calif. Intel and more than 70 other corporations, universities, organizations, and government agencies cosponsored the competition.

Science Service, which publishes Science News, has organized ISEF for the past 56 years.

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