Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Teens Compete in International Science Research Fair Event Showcases Serious Scientific Research

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Teens Compete in International Science Research Fair Event Showcases Serious Scientific Research

Article excerpt

Natalie Nash designed an iPhone system that allows the visually impaired to navigate through a room full of furniture.

Working evenings in a Pittsburgh laboratory for four years, Chareeni Kurukulasuriya has shown that an omega 3 fatty acid not only has anti-tumor effects but also enhances the effectiveness of an existing medication for head and neck cancers.

Robert Vaerewyck spent his time inventing a model car powered by pavement heat.

So how'd you spend your high school years?

The three, along with four other local high school students, will join 1,542 other American and international teenagers this week at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center for the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair 2012 -- the world's largest high school science research competition. The fair with students' project displays will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday.

Other local participants include Alicia Grabiec, 17, and Elizabeth Posney, 17, both of Freeport Area Senior High School; Calvin Beideman, a 15-year-old home-schooled student from Pittsburgh; and Andrew Lingenfelter, 14, of Seneca Valley Intermediate High School.

This year, more than 7 million high school students worldwide competed in 446 regional fairs in 68 countries. The best received all-expenses-paid trips to the Pittsburgh finals. They will share ideas and showcase "cutting-edge research" that will be judged by hundreds of science, engineering and industry professionals who hold doctoral degrees in a competition for more than $3 million in awards and scholarships.

The winners in 17 categories will compete for the $75,000 Gordon E. Moore Award. Two runners-up will each receive the Intel Foundation Young Scientists Award of $50,000. Three finalists will receive the Dudley R. Herschbach SIYSS Award -- all-expenses-paid trips to the Stockholm International Youth Science Seminar that includes attendance at the Nobel Prize ceremonies in Sweden. Other prizes range from $500 to $5,000.

These are not baking-soda-volcano projects: "These kids are not doing cookbook science -- adding this to that and seeing if it turns purple," said Wendy Hawkins, executive director of the Intel Foundation, the fair sponsor.

Students face the challenge of seeking solutions to "the problems of tomorrow" with authentic research. The projects are in the fields of medicine, electronics and engineering, with some students showcasing commercial products they've invented. This year's research includes earthquake detection, oil-spill cleanup, self- navigating robots, energy-generating hiking boots and alternative chemotherapy treatments.

"Every year that I can remember, 20 percent of the students who arrive at Intel ISEF have applied for patents, and this year, 25 percent have," said Ms. Hawkins.

The opening ceremonies speaker is Ben Gulak, a three-time finalist who developed a one-wheeled motorcycle when he was in the competition and now is chief executive officer of BPG Motors. …

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