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Alumni, Broadcom MASTERS, Westinghouse STS

Science runs in the family

10:04AM, November 17, 2017
Doing Science

Stephen Litt and his dad at the Broadcom MASTERS 2017 project showcase at Union Station.

The call of science is often heard through the generations. That is definitely the case with the Litts.

This year, Stephen Litt, 7th grade, competed in Broadcom MASTERS, one of three prestigious competitions produced and created by the Society for Science & the Public. As one of the 30 finalists, Stephen showcased his project on a novel approach to treating cancer. His research showed that Epigallocatechin-3-Gallate (EGCG), an antioxidant in green tea, can inhibit tumors in planaria, a flatworm. 

"I may have broken something when I was jumping around after I found out the results," he said, laughing as he reflected on his reaction to his experiment results.

Similar to his son, Stephen's father Lesley grew up with a love for science and research. He was a semifinalist in Westinghouse Science Talent Search (STS) 1986, the Society's most prestigious science and math competition, which is now sponsored by Regeneron. For his STS project, Lesley grew plants and simulated zero gravity. He was thinking about how it could help the Space Shuttle program.

Stephen Litt presenting his research at Broadcom MASTERS 2017.

While he never made it to Washington, D.C. to compete as a finalist, Lesley said STS helped him get into college. "It made such a difference," Lesley said. He majored in chemistry and now owns a flexible packaging company.

Stephen's mother Melanie, a dentist, similarly inspired Stephen's interest in science. In a previous science fair project, Stephen used some of the teeth she extracted from patients, testing how they eroded in different soft drinks. In fact, Lesley believes that both he and his wife — and their interest in science — influenced Stephen and his love of STEM.

"What matters most is the environment parents bring their children up in, allowing them chances to explore," Lesley said. "If parents can fund their children's STEM interests, that's great; and if they can't, they should seek help from schools or local labs."

"Science fairs are important because they're a good way for young children to express their ideas about science," Stephen added. He loves making friends with others his own age who love science as much as he does. He's currently in a group chat with all of the Broadcom MASTERS 2017 top 30 finalists.

Lesley Litt's Westinghouse STS 1986 project. "The safety regulations were different then," he said. His circular tracks were electrified with a sign that said 'danger high voltage.'

Lesley believes that science fairs, such as Broadcom MASTERS, provide an opportunity for students to learn more and keep going. "It inspires these kids." He is currently working on promoting his local science fair, which will take place this upcoming February. "Science fairs are important not just for doing science projects, but they give the kids a chance to do some public speaking," Lesley explained.

Stephen agrees. "They're a good way for young children to express their ideas about science," he said. In fact, he has participated in science fairs ever since the first grade.

Stephen's advice for others interested in STEM: "even if you don’t think what you’re doing is a good idea, other people might think it is. Don't listen to your own negative criticism." His dad agrees. "Research is a marathon," Lesley said. "Most students aren't going to get the one-hit wonder. Don't give up."

Stephen plans to study chemical engineering in college. "But that might change as I get older," he said. "I'm definitely interested in chemistry or biology."

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10:24am, November 15, 2017

For 75 years, the Science Talent Search (STS) has been the nation's oldest and most prestigious science and math competition for high school seniors. From 1942-1998 the competition, created and produced by the Society for Science & the Public, was sponsored by Westinghouse; from 1998-2016 it was sponsored by Intel; and now it is sponsored by Regeneron. The competition awards $3.1 million dollars in total to top students and their schools annually.

10:27am, November 14, 2017

We are excited to announce that 16 Society alumni were included in the 2018 Forbes 30 Under 30lists. Last year, 14 alumni were named to the 30 Under 30.

5:01pm, November 13, 2017

“When you were in middle school did you think you would be doing what you are doing now?”

This was the question posed by Maya Ajmera, President & CEO of the Society for Science & the Public, and an alumna of the 1985 Science Talent Search, to six program alumni who are thriving in their careers during a panel discussion at Broadcom MASTERS 2017.

The real failure is when you tell yourself that you’re a failure.

4:53pm, November 13, 2017

When he decided to become a teacher in Colorado, Daniel Newmyer realized that there weren’t many students participating in science fairs. Wanting to get more students involved, he applied to be a fellow of the Society for Science & the Public and submitted his plan for reaching underserved students with science and engineering.

11:24am, November 9, 2017

What does it mean to be on the cutting edge of science?

It means inspiring the next generation of science, technology, engineering and mathematics leaders. Expanding STEM opportunities for leaders and students. Being the go-to source for surprising and important science reporting. Helping students link their education to the latest science discoveries, facts and news. Fostering partnerships between research teachers and affiliated science fairs. Empowering advocates to support community-based STEM projects. 

It means: Society for Science & the Public. 

5:12pm, November 6, 2017
What does it mean to be a young woman in STEM? For the top winners of the 2017 Broadcom MASTERS, the nation’s most prestigious STEM competition for middle school students, it means having the power to change the world. These incredible young women share how STEM allows them to improve lives, and offer some advice to other aspiring female scientists and engineers.
The 15 young women finalists of Broadcom MASTERS 2017.
7:00am, November 6, 2017

Two-hundred science and science research teachers from across the nation came together to Washington, D.C. in mid-October for the Research Teachers Conference. This conference, sponsored by Regeneron, offers a weekend of professional development. The teachers led panels on how to improve their classroom activities and research programs.

View tweets during the program below.

3:21pm, November 2, 2017

Imagine designing a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) with limited supplies, with a team of people that you met just a few days before. Now imagine that you only have a few hours to put the ROV together—and after the time is up, you’ll be driving it into the water to collect sediment. That’s how the Broadcom MASTERS 2017 finalists spent their afternoon—after a morning of seining (catching aquatic wildlife using large nets) and participating in a machine learning challenge.

The black team examines their remotely operated vehicle at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center.
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