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Young scientists win big in Birmingham.

What do plantain extracts and optical fibers have in common? Both proved an important ingredient in an award-winning science project presented at the 45th International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) held May 8 to 14 in Birmingham, Ala.

More than 290 students received awards at a banquet May 13. Over 1,000 judges selected the winners from among 929 participants representing 30 countries. First-place through fourth-place winners in 14 project categories received $500 to $100. The top prizes include overseas travel. The annual ISEF is a program of Science Service, which publishes SCIENCE NEWS.

The Glenn T. Seaborg Nobel Prize Visit Award enables students to attend the Nobel ceremony in Stockholm in December. This year, the award went to Sarita Maria James, 17, of Homestead H.S. in Fort Wayne, Ind., and Fred M. Niell III, 17, of Lausanne Collegiate School in Memphis, Tenn.

James designed an automatic speech recognition system using signal processing, which helps characterize data, and neural networks, an information-processing system that helps find patterns. Niell built a cyclotron to find out whether particle mass resonance is demonstrated with a variable frequency cyclotron. He found "what seems to be a resonance point or narrow range of resonance," he reports.

Three students won trips to the Ninth International Science and Technology Fair in Mendoza, Argentina, in November. Daniel Alfonso Colon and Jason Robert Sanchez-Gil, both 18-year-old students at Colegio San Ignacio De Loyola in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, won for their work showing that plantain extracts may slow the growth of tuberculosis bacteria.

David Alec Bray, 16, from T.C. Williams H.S. in Alexandria, Va., developed an award-winning computer model that predicts how an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico would disperse.

Alexandria, Va., produced other winners as well: Diego Francisco Figueroa, 17, and Kenna Rael Mills, 17, from Thomas A. Edison H.S. won a trip to the Sixth European Union Contest for Young Scientists, to be held in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg in September. The team created a waste-water treatment system using duckweed that significantly reduces certain pollutants. They also analyzed how to compost the duckweed.

Water treatment also garnered a travel award for Ben Venable, 17, of Tallassee (Ala.) H.S. He won a scholarship to study at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel. Venable developed a device that uses hydrogen peroxide and ultraviolet light transmitted by optical fibers to detoxify pollutants in aquifers. Three additional students won Explorers Club travel awards for study with specific scientists.

About 400 ISEF participants received prizes from professional science societies or federal and industrial organizations.
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Title Annotation:45th International Science and Engineering Fair held May 8 to 14, 1994, in Alabama
Author:Adler, Tina
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:May 21, 1994
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