Nine Society for Science & the Public Science Fair Alumni Participate in the Third White House Science Fair
April 22, 2013
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President Obama Praises the Next Generation of Innovators
Nine Society for Science & the Public (SSP) science fair alumni attended the third White House Science Fairtoday where President Obama honored winners of the nation’s top science competitions and viewed their award-winning projects.
All nine students were participantsin at least one of SSP’s prestigious science education programs: the Intel® Science Talent Search®, the Intel® International Science and Engineering Fair®, or the Broadcom MASTERS®. The students invited to participate were Jack Andraka, 16, of Crownsville, MD; Jessika Baral, 13, of Fremont, CA; Easton LaChappelle, 17, of Mancos, CO; Caleb Meyer, 18, of Hope, ND; Naethan Mundkur, 17, of Louisville, KY; Sara Volz, 17, of Colorado Springs, CO; Megan Waples, 16, of Mequon, WI; Brittany Wenger, 18, of Sarasota, FL; and Mabel Wheeler, 13, of Orem, Utah. Baral and Wheeler are in junior high; all others are current high school students.
“We congratulate these outstanding SSP alumni on their hard work and passion for science and commend President Obama for recognizing and celebrating these students. By doing so, he is inspiring students around the country to learn, explore, and innovate in the STEM fields,” said Elizabeth Marincola, president of SSP. “These students will be the future generation of scientists and leaders who solve the problems of tomorrow.” Marincola attended the event with the SSP alumni.
Several student participants, including LaChappelle and Wenger, had the opportunity to discuss their research with the President. Andraka, Meyer, and Volz were also singled out for praise during the President’s remarks following the fair. Along with viewing student exhibits, the President took the opportunity to announce new commitments to his Educate to Innovate campaign. Also present were Victor Cruz of the New York Giants; Bill Nye, the Science Guy; and Kal Penn, actor and former Associate Director of the Office of Public Engagement.
The SSP Alumni Participants
Andraka was awarded first place for his new method to detect pancreatic cancer at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair 2012. His dip-stick sensor based on diabetic test paper tests blood or urine to determine whether a patient has early-stage pancreatic cancer. Andraka was also selected as a semifinalist in the 2011 Broadcom MASTERS.
Baral was inspired to study vision after noticing that her friends often use handheld electronic devices for long periods of time – a habit that can result in eye muscle fatigue. She decided to put her engineering skills to use creating a device to strengthen tired eye muscles and improve peripheral vision using LED lights. Baral won the Marconi/Samueli Award for Innovation at the 2012 Broadcom MASTERS.
LaChappelle won a second award in Engineering and an honorable mention from International Council on Systems Engineering – INCOSE at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair 2012. He designed, fabricated and created a fully working robotic arm.
Meyer took design cues from jet engines to build a high-speed, high-rpm small scale wind turbine intended for residential use. He won a Third Award in Energy and Transportation and two additional awards at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair 2012.
Mundkur was a finalist in the Intel Science Talent Search 2013. He researched the enhanced thermal conductivity and heat transfer capabilities of nanofluids.
Volz conducts research on algae as a biofuel. She won first place in the Intel Science Talent Search 2013 and is an alumna of multiple Society for Science & the Public programs, such as the Discovery Channel Young Scientist Challenge, SSP Middle School Program, and Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.
Waples explored the correlation between video games and surgical skills, earning her a place as a finalist in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair 2012.
Wenger created a neural network to aid in the diagnosis of breast cancer using data from biopsy samples, then designed and implemented her own artificial neural network to analyze these samples. Wenger won eighth place in the Intel Science Talent Search 2013. Wheeler noticed that plastic objects in her yard, such as balls and lawn chairs, had become brittle and discolored by time spent in the sun. She wondered if the same sunscreens that protect her skin from UV radiation could prevent the degradation of polymers, the long molecules that make up plastics, rubbers, and proteins. Wheeler won a Rising Star award at the 2012 Broadcom MASTERS.
Society for Science & the Public (SSP) is one of the nation’s oldest non-profit membership organizations dedicated to public engagement in science and science education. Established in 1921, SSP is a leading advocate for the understanding and appreciation of science and the vital role it plays in human advancement. Through its acclaimed education competitions, including the Intel Science Talent Search, the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, and the Broadcom MASTERS, and its award-winning publications, Science News and Science News for Kids, as well as its weekly e-publication for the iPad, Science News Prime, Society for Science & the Public is committed to inform, educate, and inspire.
Broadcom MASTERS (Math, Applied Science, Technology and Engineering for Rising Stars), a program of Society for Science & the Public sponsored by Broadcom Foundation, is the premier national science, technology, engineering and math competition for 6th, 7th and 8th graders. It recognizes 300 top middle school students as semifinalists each year, with 30 named as finalists and invited to attend a week in Washington, DC in October where they participate in final judging, display their work to the public, meet with notable dignitaries, and compete for many awards, including the top award of $25,000. Broadcom MASTERS inspires and encourages young scientists, engineers and innovators to become college and career-ready by continuing their STEM studies into high school and beyond. For more information, please visit www.societyforscience.org/masters or www.broadcomfoundation.org/masters.
About the Intel Science Talent Search
The Intel Science Talent Search, a program of Society for Science & the Public, is the nation’s oldest and most prestigious pre-college science competition. Alumni of the program have made extraordinary contributions to science and hold more than 100 of the world’s most distinguished science and math honors, including seven Nobel Prizes and five National Medals of Science. The Intel Science Talent Search recognizes 300 students and their schools as semifinalists each year to compete for $1.25 million in awards. From that select pool, 40 student finalists are invited to Washington, DC in March to participate in final judging, display their work to the public, meet with notable scientists, and compete for the top award of $100,000. For more information, please visit
About the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair
The Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, a program of Society for Science & the Public, is the world’s largest international pre-college science competition. The Intel International Science and Engineering Fair provides a forum for more than 1,500 high school students from more than 70 countries, regions, and territories to showcase their independent research annually. Each year, millions of students worldwide compete in local science fairs; winners go on to participate in affiliated regional, state and national fairs to earn the opportunity to attend the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. The competition provides the opportunity forfinalists to display their talent on an international stage, while enabling them to submit their work for judging by doctorallevel scientists. The Intel International Science and Engineering Fair provides more than $3 million in prizes and scholarships annually. For more information, please visit www.societyforscience.org/isef.