Last week, Intel and the Society for Science and the Public announced the winners of the 2008 Intel Talent Search. You can read the announcement here.
(A few of these folks are familiar faces to those who have been following the Davidson Fellows awards over the past few years. First place winner Shivani Sud was a 2006 Davidson Fellow Laureate, and second place winner Graham Van Schaik was a 2007 Davidson Fellow who received a $10,000 award).
Over the past several years, awards like Intel and Davidson have changed the name of the game when it comes to high school science projects. Suffice to say, the vinegar and baking soda volcano won't cut it anymore... The existence of these awards creates incentives for high school students to do independent lab-based research. Hopefully many will leverage the experience to continue in science research-based careers.
Which leads me to my main point on this blog post -- what are former Intel (or Westinghouse, who used to sponsor the competition) winners up to these days? I suppose some are in science. Some are probably working in finance or consulting. Some are probably caring for children, and some are doing other things. The Society for Science and the Public website lists the winners back to 1998, but I suspect that -- academic training taking as long as it does these days -- many of these folks are still in school. I would love to track down some Westinghouse winners from earlier days. What have they learned about building a scientific career after their initial success? What are the joys and woes of science -- or if they left science, why did they do so? What advice would they give to young scientists? What was good and bad about the way they learned science in school?
If anyone has any information on finding former winners and finalists, or if you are one, please email me at lvanderkam at yahoo dot com. Thanks!