On Wednesday, November 18, Wilbur Wright Middle School of Munster, Indiana received a $1,000 check to use for STEM programming, supplies, or activities from the Broadcom Foundation at a school assembly honoring Annie Ostojic, top winner of the 2015 Broadcom MASTERS.
The eighth grade class (of approximately 300 students), as well as members of the school board, educators, school district administrators, members of the science fair community, and Annie’s family were invited to attend the check presentation, which included remarks from Tim Sopko, principal of Wilbur Wright Middle School; Allie Stifel, Assistant Director of Science Education Programs and program manager of Broadcom MASTERS at Society for Science & the Public; Paula Golden, President and Executive Director, Broadcom Foundation and Director, Community Affairs, Broadcom Corporation; Valerie Zemaitis, Annie’s seventh grade science teacher; and Annie Ostojic.
Annie was touted as a role model to her peers for her tenacity in setting and achieving her goals. Annie is a repeat Broadcom MASTERS finalist, having won the Rising Star award in 2014 and a trip to the Broadcom MASTERS International to serve as a U.S. delegate. She then returned to win the top award of $25,000 in 2015.
“It’s a rare feat for a student to be selected in the top 30 within the country two years in a row,” said Allie Stifel. “Annie had to start all over again — with her new project, she rose to the top from the pile of 70,000 middle school science projects nationwide who are eligible to be nominated for the Broadcom MASTERS. Annie is our youngest top winner, and we are very proud of her success.”
Partially because of that success, Annie’s school has expanded STEM options for middle school students, including offering biology to eighth graders and beginning an introduction to engineering course. Annie also takes chemistry, geometry, and C++ programming at the high school for half of her day.
“Choose something you like, not something that you think scientists and engineers do,” advised Paula Golden. “You’re working on science and engineering every day and just don’t realize it. Annie was curious — she had a bad experience reheating food in the microwave and then used paper, marshmallows, and other household items to help her create a version that worked better. Tap into your curiosity and do something you are interested in.”
Attendees also got the opportunity to view highlights videos of both the Broadcom MASTERS and Broadcom MASTERS International.
All schools with Broadcom MASTERS finalists receive $1,000 to use for STEM activities. In addition, designated teachers selected by the finalists receive a classroom subscription to Science News, and the teachers selected by semifinalists receive a class set of Sally Ride career books.
Valerie Zemaitis spoke for the school when she told Annie, “We are so proud of you and your drive and innovation,” while Tim Sopko closed the assembly by asking the students to take advantage of the opportunities they have available, because each opportunity is a chance for success.