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Alumni, Intel ISEF

Promoting an interest in scientific research at the World Science Festival: One student’s story

2:07PM, June 21, 2017
Doing Science
Benjy Firester gives a hands-on demonstration for kids at the World Science Festival.

Benjy Firester gives a hands-on demonstration for kids at the World Science Festival.


By Benjy Firester (Intel ISEF 2016 and 2017), rising senior at Hunter College High School

On Sunday, June 4th, I had the pleasure of representing Intel ISEF at the World Science Festival in New York City. Throughout the day I talked with kids of all ages about my experiences at Intel ISEF over the past two years, as well as my research into modeling potato late blight. I organized and ran an activity which demonstrated some of the aspects of my research in modeling – I really enjoyed this opportunity to share my knowledge and interest in science with other students.

Science fairs ... offer a unique opportunity to meet so many people from different backgrounds interested in science.

The highlight of my day was participating in an interview with Lynn Brunelle discussing how I got into research, what I did, and advice I had for other middle school or high school students interested in science. I was thrilled to talk before a live audience about my research on multiple different levels – from “what is probability,” to how algorithms and mathematical modeling offer new solutions to centuries-old diseases.

Society alumni Indrani Das, Benjy Firester, and Eleanor Sigrest led hands-on workshops at the World Science Festival.

At the festival, I met Indrani Das, the top winner at the Regeneron Science Talent Search 2017, and Eleanor Sigrest, the top winner from the Broadcom MASTERS 2016, which were amazing experiences. Being able to discuss science in depth and with such passion with other kids my age is one of the most fulfilling parts of any science event. At Intel ISEF, or at this year’s World Science Festival, I know the connections I made will last a lifetime.

Being able to discuss science in depth and with such passion with other kids my age is one of the most fulfilling parts of any science event.

Being at the Festival and presenting my research was a great honor, and I had so much fun doing it! Science fairs, such as this one or Intel ISEF, offer a unique opportunity to meet so many people from different backgrounds interested in science. Events such as these also teach science in a different way than the normal classroom context, and can make it more approachable and fun. I loved participating in the World Science Festival and hope that my presentation made an impact for the promotion of science and interest in research.

2:19pm, June 20, 2017

The Society for Science & the Public is committed to encouraging all young people into STEM fields and careers. As a part of this pursuit, the Society is providing $120,000 in grants to five innovative organizations supporting community-based STEM projects and 23 science research programs to purchase much-needed equipment for teachers across the country. In total, $20,000 will be distributed to the nonprofit organizations, while $100,000 will go to teachers.

Electric Girls teaches girls leadership, electronics, and computer programming skills.
11:20am, June 12, 2017

In the past few months, Eleanor Sigrest led a booth for kids at the recent World Science Festival and met an astronaut. She has been a featured speaker at several STEM conferences and was invited to NASA Goddard and Aerojet.

Eleanor, who won the top award at Broadcom MASTERS 2016, is maybe the busiest middle school student!

Read our interview with Eleanor below to learn more about what she plans to do next.

11:49am, June 5, 2017

A high school student inspired by her own hearing loss and use of hearing aids created an effective wind noise reduction device. Another is researching head and neck cancer — specifically how to inhibit cancer growth.

Kearra researches the UCP2 gene in a lab.
9:00am, May 30, 2017

On a college study abroad trip, Twila Moon stood near a large valley glacier in Nepal. She heard the glacier melting, and dripping, and ice shifting.

"I thought it was the most interesting, magical thing," Twila said.

She was enthralled — and went back to school to become a glaciologist. Now, Twila, an Intel ISEF 1996, 1998, and 1999 finalist, studies climate change's effects on glacial ice.

Read our interview with Twila below to learn more about her research and why science is so important.

Twila Moon (left) (U. Colorado), Mark Behn (WHOI), and Ian Joughin (U. Washington) in the field checking science instruments near the west coast of the Greenland Ice Sheet.
9:00am, May 26, 2017

Emily Cross, a Society alumna from Ontario, Canada, studies fossils, specifically chemical processes to better break them down, without damaging fossilized preserved tissues. Her research may even improve the mining process. Recently, Emily participated in the X-STEM USA Science and Engineering Festival in Washington, D.C. and gave a keynote speech.

Emily Cross delivered a keynote speech at the X-STEM Science and Engineering Festival.
9:00am, May 24, 2017

Masayuki Mac Takahashi, a Society alum of the 1959 National Science Fair competition (now the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair), returns to judge projects at Intel ISEF. He judged at this year's competition in Los Angeles.

Dr. Masayuki is one of seven directors of the Japan Science Society. In the 1959 competition, held in Hartford, Connecticut, he won the 3rd place award with his study of "Dune plant ecology on the Enshunada coast."

Read on to learn how Masayuki is working to bring mentorship to Japan, especially in STEM education and research.

Masayuki Mac Takahashi is a Society alum of the 1959 National Science Fair competition.
12:00am, May 22, 2017

Last week in Los Angeles, California, nearly 2,000 high school students from 78 countries, regions, and territories competed in Intel ISEF, the world's largest international pre-college science competition. At the culmination of the competition, approximately $4 million was awarded to the finalists.

Amber Yang, Ivo Zell, and Valerio Pagliarino won the top awards at the Intel ISEF 2017.
12:00am, May 18, 2017

One science teacher uses a beloved English and creative writing method in his classes. He workshops with his students, and "didn't know that's what I was doing until my wife told me; she's in language arts," said Paul Strode, a teacher at Fairview High School in Boulder, Colorado.

If you can't write, you simply can't do science.

Jordan Pope, an Intel ISEF 2017 finalist from Baltimore, Maryland, presents his solar power heater kit.
12:00am, May 17, 2017

“Realize that the work you’re doing is much more important than what you perceive it to be,” urged Ann Makosinski (Intel ISEF 2013) to a roomful of Intel ISEF 2017 finalists at the Intel ISEF Alumni Entrepreneur Panel.

The projects and research finalists are working on are not only important to their lives, but to others, said Ann, the founder of Makotronics Enterprises.

At Intel ISEF, Sheel Tyle (middle) realized you don’t have to be old to create change.
2:58pm, May 16, 2017

Growing up in India, Manu Prakash couldn’t afford a microscope. He challenged his brother and himself that he would build one out of cardboard and duct tape. So he stole the fat lenses from his brother’s glasses and created his own.

“My brother was not happy,” Manu said, “but that was the moment that changed my trajectory into science.”

Manu Prakash described how scientific tools must be more accessible to people in the field, especially those without electricity.
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