Fighting national crises and diagnosing critically ill patients- all in a summer's work for Broadcom MASTERS 2014 finalist Daniel Bruce.
Daniel, a California resident, was nominated for Broadcom MASTERS twice. Seizing the opportunity, he applied the first year and received recognition as a semifinalist. One year later, he applied again-- his persistence paid off, and in October 2014 Daniel joined his peers as a Broadcom MASTER.
Daniel investigated whether and how the behavior of birds is affected by the presence of people nearby. He was awarded a second place STEM award for Science at Broadcom MASTERS.
The Broadcom MASTERS opportunity was second to none-- and with it came prize money to use toward a summer camp experience. We caught up with Daniel to hear about his take on all of these experiences.
How did you hear about Broadcom MASTERS? What motivated you to apply after you were nominated?
I first found out about the Broadcom MASTERS program through the certificate of nomination I received in my county science fair. I was in seventh grade at the time and learned more from my science teacher who has had experiences with Broadcom MASTERS as well. At home, I learned a lot more about Broadcom MASTERS from the SSP website.
My science teacher gave the program an excellent review and urged me to apply. I was very impressed with everything I’d heard and seen online, and so I decided to go through the application process.
That year I received a semifinalist position, and I was ecstatic, not having expected to go very far. When I was nominated in eighth grade, I re-applied and was chosen as a finalist.
What is your standout memory from Broadcom MASTERS?
It is near impossible to pick one moment. There were so many incredible things we enjoyed, I still can’t entirely believe I was honored in meeting the president.
By far my favorite experience was meeting all my fellow finalists. They are an incredible group that continues to change my life and perspectives even today, and I am confident they will continue doing so long into my future.
I am able to narrow down to two favorite memories. Meeting the president and the initial dinner I had with the finalists from the West Coast on the day I arrived in D.C.
While I had yet to meet many of the incredible finalists that I would learn to call some of my closest friends, it was the first moment where I was introduced to the people I had been selected with, my first experience with the program I would experience that week. It was getting to know those first finalists that provided the feeling of awe and in my mind would set the stage for the rest of the week.
Which STEM summer camp program did you choose to use your award? Tell us about the experience!
I explored two fun, interactive camps this summer.
First up for the summer was the National Security and Intelligence camp at American University. The second was a medically focused camp at Berkeley. Many of my relatives are MDs, and while I don’t envision myself in the field I do find the medical practice very interesting.
A highlight from the National Security camp was the crisis simulations. The camp was split into small groups representing security councils. Each council was given their own crisis. For a few days, we adapted our crisis response and dealt with the repercussions of our actions (or lack thereof.)
I found the Berkeley camp even more exciting and fun. The people I met were all incredibly inspiring, almost as good friends as those I made in the Broadcom MASTERS program (key word: almost). My favorite activity was the diagnostics simulation. In this activity we were diagnosing patients over the course of a few days, assessing their ailments through their symptoms and actions.
Do you have any exciting research plans for this coming school year?
I’ve been visiting the Penasquitos Lagoon quite a lot recently-- the initial source of inspiration for both my previous science fair projects. Lately I have been interested in looking into the engraver beetles that have been killing off nearby Torrey Pines.
The tree is native only to the small cliffs by the lagoon and an island a few miles north. While the sap usually provides enough protection, the recent drought has left the trees unable to create enough sap to trap the beetles.
Interestingly, there are no known predators of these beetles, and so there is nothing to balance their growing numbers. I have learned of various attempts to lower out of control populations through the introduction of other species. This usually involves invasive species being brought down by their predators from their original place of inhabitance. This method, however, is seldom used due to the risk of massive potential harm should the predator grow out of control as well and hunt other native plants and animals.
While still in a very primitive stage of thought processes, a main question I need to attempt to answer is how to test whether other species of birds from other areas might feed on this local engraver beetles in a safe and efficient manner.
Can you share some words of advice to other middle school students who want to explore STEM?
First and foremost you have to enjoy STEM. All four of the subjects of STEM are incredibly broad, and you have to explore their width as well as depth. The best way to do that is simply to expose yourself to as much as you can, even in things you think unrelated to STEM, such as art, writing, and music. Creativity and curiosity are the foundations necessary for these fields, so don't be afraid to explore and even create paths when navigating these subjects.