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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.

2:57pm, May 16, 2017

Representatives from 78 countries, regions, and territories ran onto the stage, hoisting flags and posters decorated with their country pride. They were from Argentina and Zimbabwe, Israel and Saudi Arabia, Ghana and the Ukraine.

As country names were called out into the large hall, the representatives from each science fair team ran up and stood on stage. By the end of the list, there was a bustling crowd of finalists waving their hands and posters to the rest of the room. Last night at the opening ceremonies, we welcomed students from around the world to Intel ISEF 2017.

As their country was called, finalists ran up onto the stage with wide smiles.
12:00am, May 16, 2017

"Think about what you prioritize and your happiness — let that guide you," said H. Robert Horvitz. It is possible to balance your career and personal life, he explained.

Nobel Prize laureates offered advice like this, and more, for the Intel ISEF 2017 finalists during the Excellence in Science and Technology Panel.

Dianne Newman encouraged the finalists to get out of echo chambers and engage in dialogue with others.
12:00am, May 16, 2017

Why does it matter? Why is this relevant? Who will this impact?

These are the types of questions science fair competitors should be able to answer and communicate. JulieAnn Villa, a science teacher at Niles West High School in Skokie Illinois, offered this type of advice to science teachers, judges, mentors, and Intel ISEF 2017 finalists during a symposia session on how to help students best communicate their science.

Students and those involved in science fair or science research should be able to explain why it is relevant. "Students have to get at the why," JulieAnn said.

3:00pm, May 15, 2017

If you’re interested in science and research, go for it and persist. This was the main theme of the Leveraging Your Science Fair Experience: Oh the Places You Can Go! symposia session at Intel ISEF 2017 with Society for Science & the Public President & CEO Maya Ajmera and several Intel ISEF alumni.

“Many of you will now become alumni after this week,” Maya said. “It comes with a great network and an extraordinary experience.”

Alumni on the panel included:

Linn, Raymond, Maya Ajmera, Diya, Christopher, and Kathy at an Intel ISEF 2017 symposia session.
12:00pm, May 15, 2017

Dozens of inflatable globes were thrown into the audience. Intel ISEF finalists, judges, and fair directors spun their globes, spotting the Gulf Stream, Kuroshio Current, and other important spots.

Symposia audience members inspect inflatable globes to learn about climate change modeling.
8:00am, May 15, 2017

On the first night of every Intel ISEF, thousands of finalists get to know each other and trade pins from their countries, states, or cities at the beloved pin exchange tradition. It becomes a bit of a contest to see who has the most stuffed lanyard.

View photos from the 2017 pin exchange below:

Intel ISEF 2017 finalists traded pins from the countries, states, or cities at the Pin Exchange, a beloved tradition.
12:00pm, May 12, 2017

Leading up to Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF) 2017, the Society for Science & the Public has been asking our alumni to share a message for current Intel ISEF finalists on social media. We've heard some great stories, and wanted to share a special message with you from Cathy Chen, a 2007-2010 Intel ISEF finalist.

Cathy Chen and Alexander Mullen at their wedding.
9:00am, May 12, 2017

One middle school student found a sustainable way to clean up oil spills. Nathan Deng, a 2016 Broadcom MASTERS top winner, found that existing surfactant measuring options are crude or costly. So he invented a cheaper tool.

Now, Nathan is working on packaging his surface tension kits for students and people in developing countries. He's also figuring out how to educate people on using the device.

Read on to learn more about Nathan's continued research, and how to keep going even when your invention doesn't work on the first, second, or third time.

Nathan Deng explains his project at the 2016 Broadcom MASTERS Science and Engineering Project Showcase.
9:00am, May 10, 2017

Young scientists truly are the harbingers of the future. They are inventing recycled materials, creating alternative water dispensers, working to enact bottle deposit bills, and more.

9:15am, May 9, 2017

Peeyush Shrivastava is the CEO of Genetesis, a cardiac imaging company working on the future of medical imaging. An Intel Science Talent Search 2013 semifinalist, Peeyush was a BioOhio startup winner and has been nominated as one of the top AI startups for social impact.

Not to mention, Genetesis won seed funding from Shark Tank's Mark Cuban. Peeyush and his team are building ways to detect sources of abnormality in the heart with quicker, noninvasive ways. They are working on 3D maps of electrical activity and noninvasive scans.

Peeyush and his team are working to create better cardiac imaging.
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