Saturday, May 14, 2011

A Global Science Fair

Intel just announced the winners of the annual International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF). I attended this fair when it was held in Atlanta in 2008, and it's certainly a step up from the usual vinegar volcanoes and plants grown in different conditions. You can read about this year's winners here.

Two interesting highlights? One, this is truly an international fair. Three Thai students won a $50,000 award for designing a new type of plastic out of fish scales. Southeast Asia is not short on fish, so this is a fun development (although apparently the bowls can't yet survive the microwave, so the team is tweaking the design). $50,000 will go a long way in Thailand, so it's cool to see science being rewarded there, and for students from various countries to be exposed to their peers in others.

Finally, Taylor Wilson of Reno, NV won Intel's Young Scientist Award for his project which figures out a low-cost way to detect nuclear material. Wilson's work is receiving funding from the Department of Homeland Security which (shockingly!) sees an application for this idea -- possibly in the Port of Newark close to my home. Anyway, Wilson is a student at the Davidson Academy, housed at the University of Nevada at Reno. One of the selling points of this school for gifted young students is that you can devote serious time to long-term, independent projects. We're certainly seeing the payoff from that now.

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