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Megha Balachandra, 14, from Bangalore, Karnataka, India, was one of 18 delegates selected to attend the first-ever Broadcom MASTERS International program in May 2012. Broadcom MASTERS International is a companion program to the domestic Broadcom MASTERS that provides a unique opportunity to attend the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair for select middle school students from around the world. Delegates participate in a program structured specifically for them, as well as participate in various facets of Intel ISEF. Megha discusses her experience below.
I have participated in the school science POWER (Project Oriented Work for Enterprise and Research) project fair every year since first grade. I have regularly won prizes. During eighth grade, I participated in the Institute for Research and Innovation in Science (IRIS) 2011 national science fair, where I presented my work on yeast metabolism under aerobic and anaerobic conditions – which has domestic as well as commercial implications (reducing fermentation time of food using yeast). At this fair, I was selected to serve as a Broadcom MASTERS International delegate at the Intel ISEF 2012 held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
It was a dream of mine to contribute to the community and in some capacity to help make things faster, simpler, and easier. My research work focused on reducing cooking time. Sharing my research at IRIS and Broadcom MASTERS International on reducing the fermentation time of food, thus making cooking faster and easier, helped me achieve that dream. I was overwhelmed by the opportunity and feel a great sense of thankfulness and gratitude to both IRIS and Broadcom MASTERS International.
I was the first person to receive the opportunity to attend Broadcom MASTERS International in India and I just couldn’t believe it when it was announced. This was my first visit to the United States and to Intel ISEF. It was an enthralling experience! I got to meet young scientists like me from across the world, hear about them, their personal interests, goals, and how they achieve them, and learn more about different languages, cultures, and traditions of people from all over the world. It was a very wonderful and memorable experience for me.
At Broadcom MASTERS International, I was part of a group of 18 students from 11 different countries that was divided into three teams – grey, red and black. Each team consisted of 6 members, all from different countries.
On the first day, we went to the Pin Exchange ceremony. I have very beautiful memories of this day when I see the pins I received from my friends. The second day was my first official Broadcom MASTERS International activities. We went to Carnegie Mellon University where we saw the mechanical engineering lab, material science lab, artificial intelligence lab, and robotics lab. The opening ceremony of Intel ISEF was during the evening.
The third day we went to Kennywood amusement park, where we learned about the physics of the rides. It was absolutely the exact meaning of combining learning with fun. That night we had a party with food, dancing, music, and games at a place called Stage AE.
The fourth day was Student Observer Day. There were many students from different parts of the United States who joined us. We had a lot of activities such as extracting DNA from strawberries, making your own electroscope, making ice cream without a fridge, career exploration, etc. After lunch, we built a Rube Goldberg chain reaction and re-destructed it. This was my most favorite day, as we learned a lot and experienced things I had never enjoyed before. That night we all had dinner at Heinz Field and then went to Carnegie Science Center.
The sixth day we visited the Expo and Exhibit Halls, where Intel ISEF projects were open to the public. I visited most of the stalls and I was wonderstruck by the excellent projects from different fields of science. This exposure to science gave me a deep sense of motivation to innovate and achieve further and gave me a new sense of confidence. We also had a forensic challenge where we acted as the FBI and investigated a murder case. To finish, we had a ceremony where we received medals and attended the Intel ISEF award ceremonies. It was a precious moment to a lot of the participants.
My overall experience at Intel ISEF and with my team at Broadcom MASTERS International was very memorable. Even today, I feel like it just happened yesterday. I miss all my friends and the whole team. I look forward to being a participant at Intel ISEF and am working on some science projects.
In 2003, we were being recruited to head up judging at Intel ISEF, which was being held in Phoenix two years later.