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Young scientists make the cut: thirty finalists named in middle school competition.

Forget the baking-soda volcano. With research ranging from the power of natural mosquito repellent to the adaptability of reef-building corals, a new crop of young science fair students are leaving old-school projects in the dust.

In September, 30 of these middle schoolers will head to Washington, D.C., to take part in the final stage of the Broadcom Math, Applied Science, Technology and Engineering for Rising Stars, or MASTERS, program. This is the second year of the national science competition, a program of the Society for Science & the Public that is sponsored by the Broadcom Foundation.

Announced on August 29, this year's finalists include one 12-year-old from Massachusetts who figured out how to use the ocean's waves to generate electricity. Another from California pitted an intelligent game-playing computer against human doctors and professors. But the competition doesn't just consider the creativity and scientific merit of a student's project; it also judges each finalist's ability to solve problems, communicate and work in teams.

While in Washington from September 28 to October 3, the sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade finalists will compete in a series of project showcases, individual interviews and intellectually grueling team trials designed to test each student's math and science mettle.

"To build an innovative workforce of scientists and engineers for the future, our kids need hands-on experiences to develop their science, technology, engineering and math skills," says Paula Golden, executive director of Broadcom Foundation and director of community affairs for Broadcom Corp. The students have only 90 minutes to complete their tasks, but the competition's organizers believe the kids are up to the challenge.

"These students show that with support and encouragement, middle schoolers can come up with creative approaches to many of the challenges faced by society," says Elizabeth Marincola, president of the Society for Science & the Public, which publishes Science News.

In 2011 and again in 2012, the Broadcom MASTERS competition received more than 1,460 entries from students nominated by SSP-affiliated science fairs throughout the country. In early August, judges shaved the student entries down to 300 semifinalists. In the final round, a panel of five scientists and engineers cut the group down to 30.

Winners will be announced October 2 at an awards ceremony at the Carnegie Institution for Science headquarters in Washington. The top prize is a $25,000 education award. Each finalist's school will also receive a $1,000 award.

The finalists

CALIFORNIA Jessika Baral, Fremont, Hopkins Junior High School; Shashank Dholakia and Shlshlr Dholakia, Santa Clara, Marian A. Peterson Middle School; Elan Filler, Rancho Palos Verdes, Rolling Hills Country Day School; Raymond Gilmartin, South Pasadena, South Pasadena Middle School; Anna Lou, Anaheim, Oxford Academy

CONNECTICUT Maura Oei, Hebron, Oei Home School

FLORIDA Maria Elena Grimmett, Jupiter, The Weiss School; Shlxuan Li, Lynn Haven, Bay Haven Charter Academy; Ceili Masterson, Palm Bay, Stone Middle School; Nicole Odzer, North Miami Beach, Highland Oaks Middle School

ILLINOIS Varun lyer, Springfield, Benjamin Franklin Middle School

KENTUCKY Cassa Drury, Louisville, St. Francis of Assisi

MASSACHUSETTS Daniel Lu, Carlisle, Carlisle Public Schools; Ethan Messier, Assonet, New England Christian Academy

MINNESOTA Carolyn Jons, Eden Prairie, Central Middle School Eden Prairie

MISSOURI Samuel Coulson, Weston, West Platte High School

NORTH CAROLINA Chase Lewis, Chapel Hill, Lewis School

NEW YORK Katherine Fennell, New York City, The Montessori Middle School; David U, Commack, Commack Middle School

OHIO Lisa Crlseione, Seven Hills, Incarnate Word Academy; Olivia Henderson, Loveland, St. Columban School

OREGON Anlrudh Jaln, Portland, Summa Academy North

PENNSYLVANIA Sean Hnath, Reading, Muhlenberg Middle School

TEXAS Palge Gentry, San Angelo, Irion County Intermediate School; Maya Patel, The Woodlands, McCullough Junior High School; John WiIkins, San Antonio, Keystone School

SOUTH CAROLINA William Monts, Bluffton, Cross Schools

UTAH Mabel Wheeler, Orem, Cherry Hill Elementary School

VIRGINIA Camille Yoke, Midlothian, Manchester Middle School

Finalists are listed by state, name, hometown and school.

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Title Annotation:Science & Society
Author:Rosen, Meghan
Publication:Science News
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 22, 2012
Words:647
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