'Science research pumps motivation into my veins': Intel ISEF 2017 finalists take on Estonia | Society for Science & the Public
Previous Story:
A summer of learning: Teachers share hands-on research experiences
Next Story:
Broadcom MASTERS 2017 awards $100,000 in prizes
Alumni
Intel ISEF

'Science research pumps motivation into my veins': Intel ISEF 2017 finalists take on Estonia

October 23, 2017
Kendra Zhang and Nicky Wojtania traveled around Estonia during the European Union Contest for Young Scientists.
Kendra Zhang and Nicky Wojtania traveled around Estonia during the European Union Contest for Young Scientists.
Photo courtesy of Nicky Wojtania.

This summer, two Intel ISEF 2017 finalists traveled to Estonia to present their research at European Union Contest for Young Scientists (EUCYS) competition. They were afforded this opportunity as part of an award they received at Intel ISEF 2017.

Read on to learn more about their trip.


 

Kendra holds up her device prototypes at EUCYS.
Kendra holds up her device prototypes at EUCYS.
Photo courtesy of Kendra Zhang.

Kendra Zhang

HER FAVORITE PART OF THE EUCYS COMPETITION: Attending EUCYS was actually my first time ever going to Europe. My first three days in Tallinn were spent at a convention center where my schedule was mixed with judging, viewing other students’ projects, and making friends with them.

Nicole and I were the only two Americans at EUCYS, so everyone we met was someone from a foreign country. I loved meeting everyone from all different countries and learning about their cultures, hearing their jokes, and of course, learning what their research projects were about.

Science research pumps motivation into my veins.

ON WINNING A PRIZE AT EUCYS: No matter how many science fair awards ceremonies I attend (by now, more than I can count on my hands), my heart beats out of my chest, I get butterflies in my stomach, and my palms get clammy. I won the Danone special award, for which the sponsor organization awarded me a laptop! I felt honored and proud to win.

Kendra with new friends from Canada and Denmark.
Kendra with new friends from Canada and Denmark.
Photo courtesy of Kendra Zhang.

THE IMPORTANCE OF SCIENCE FAIRS: I actually love the judging at science fairs — I love conversing with experts of my field and hearing their insightful questions. This, I believe, is why high school science fairs are vital. High schoolers like myself interested in STEM who conduct projects and have the opportunity to attend research fairs are so lucky to be able to speak to researchers in our fields. Out of the dozens of judges I’ve ever spoken to, each has examined my project from a different angle based on where their research is focused, and each judge had something different to ask me about my work. This was also one of my favorite parts about attending Intel ISEF.

High school science fairs are vital.

I’d like to extend my deepest thanks to the Society for Science & the Public. Intel ISEF was the best week of my life! It’s allowed me to experience exceptional opportunities (an asteroid named after me, going to EUCYS) absolutely unparalleled to anything I could have done had I not been involved with the Society.

Intel ISEF was the best week of my life.

HER STEM GOALS: The insight I gained from peers and judges at Intel ISEF wholly solidified my interests in continuing research throughout college and beyond, whether it be extending my current project (A Paper-Based Microbial Fuel Cell for Glucose Monitoring in Saliva) or working on new ventures in science. What I know for sure is that science research pumps motivation into my veins and I really do see myself enjoying a career in STEM. I plan on pursuing a STEM degree when I begin college next year.


 

Nicky describes her research at EUCYS.
Nicky describes her research at EUCYS.
Photo courtesy of Nicky Wojtania.

Nicky Wojtania

HER FAVORITE PART OF THE EUCYS COMPETITION: Over the course of a week, we visited three of Tallinn's museums and beautiful sites, and we had three days of presenting to judges as well as the public. My favorite part was definitely interacting with the people. Not only was I able to meet well-established professors and researchers, but I also formed bonds with like-minded young scientists from around the world.

THE IMPORTANCE OF SCIENCE FAIRS: My involvement in Intel ISEF has solidified my desire to pursue a degree in STEM. Through research, I discovered science is alive, not static, and that it offers the potential for extraordinary impact on a nation as much as it does on a single life. Research (Cellulose Nanocrystals for Security Applications: Embedding Non-Optical Signatures Provided by Nanoparticles into Cellulose Nanocrystal Chiral Nematic Films) has taught me numerous skills and provided an additional dimension to life.

I formed bonds with like-minded young scientists from around the world.

Science fairs provide a lens with which students are able to magnify and clarify the fascinating world around them. Being able to piece together the world's puzzle, through scientific research, is definitely worth it.  And even if you don't ultimately end up in science, the tools — creativity, communication, unorthodox solutions, and leadership — will help you wherever you go.

Even if you don't ultimately end up in science, the tools will help you wherever you go.

HER STEM GOALS: I'm currently a freshman at Harvard University pursuing a bioengineering degree. I plan to pursue master's and Ph.D. degrees. My career aspirations include leading a research team in academia or industrial settings to facilitate world-enhancing biomedical discoveries. Leading individuals to make impactful change is extremely satisfactory, which is why I hope to bridge science to the business world, evolving inventions into successful business products that allow immediate, widespread public benefit.