Pathways to research: Young scientists tackle abstract problems

Students’ independent, theoretical investigations produce real-world results

By Alison Pearce Stevens, 17:11 PM October 24, 2012

When Nilesh Tripuraneni set out to make pancakes one morning, he had no idea he’d also wind up with the makings of a first-rate science fair project. But as the high school student sprinkled water on a hot griddle to test its temperature, the dancing droplets got him thinking: What, exactly, was going on beneath them?

The sophomore at Clovis West High School in California turned to the Internet for clues to the hopping water droplets. He learned that when the surface of a griddle becomes ...

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