Sydney Bergman, a 2010 Society Fellow, is a biology teacher at School Without Walls, her own alma mater, in Washington, D.C. This year, she had three students attend the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF) as finalists. Below, she gives us a glimpse into that experience.
This year is my fourth as a Society Fellow, and the fourth time in a row I’ve sent students to Intel ISEF as finalists. This year, I had three finalists, all girls, who had projects ranging from using the spots on dolphins to determine their ages to the effects of acidification on flatworm regeneration to the evolution of the adaptive immune system using purple sea urchins as a model.
All three had an absolute blast at Intel ISEF. They met students from all over the world and got to share their personal and project experiences with them. One student, Maya Hall, was selected for the Nobel Prize panel luncheon, and got to have lunch with Frances Arnold, as well as ask a question of Martin Chalfie. She really enjoyed the opportunity to get to talk and share her research with Dr. Arnold. Her question, whether science was more about intuition or following directions, yielded a great answer about the importance of passion products, the work that gets done between assigned tasks and its importance in research.
Additionally, we’ve been met with unparalleled support from the DC Public Schools (DCPS) and its recognition of STEM on the trip, with the students getting a special message from Chancellor Kaya Henderson before judging. I really appreciate D.C.’s support and encouragement of students in STEM.