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LANXESS is a leader in specialty chemicals and operates in all important global markets. Its core business - the development, manufacture and sale of plastics, rubber, specialty chemicals and intermediates is at the very heart of the chemical industry. In all its activities around the world, LANXESS subscribes to the principle of sustainable development. This was their first year providing an award at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF). Answers were provided by Bridget McCourt, LANXESS Community Relations Manager.
Can you tell us about your organization and why scientific research is important to it? What made your organization decide to offer a special award at Intel ISEF?
LANXESS is a global specialty chemicals company with a long history of groundbreaking research and development activities. Innovation is key to the progress of our industry and the success of our organization.
As a proud member of the Pittsburgh community, LANXESS Corporation wanted to be a part of Intel ISEF during its first time in our city in more than 20 years. A special award was an excellent way for LANXESS to support students from around the world who are interested in solving challenges through research and experimentation.
What award did you offer at Intel ISEF?
This was our first year offering the LANXESS Green Chemistry Award, an award that honors projects that best display chemicals/processes that reduce or eliminate negative environmental impacts.
Why do you think it’s important for students to participate in events such as the Intel ISEF?
Whether it is at the international level, such as Intel ISEF, or even within their own classroom, science fairs provide students the opportunity to experience hands-on, inquiry-based science education.
It is important that we demonstrate to students how critical science and research are to their future and to the future of society. While we certainly want to encourage as many students as possible to consider a career in the sciences, we also want those that choose a different path to have a solid understanding of basic science and the role it will play in their lives.
What impact do you think you, as an organization that provides awards and as judges, have on students interested in scientific research?
Awareness – by making the students involved with Intel ISEF aware of LANXESS as a company and providing them with opportunities to interact with our employee judges, we are opening their eyes to new possibilities for their futures.
What are the elements of a good science fair project?
A good science fair project begins with the student’s excitement and passion for the research subject. Of course, the hypothesis, experimentation and research must be properly documented, but no project will be a success if the student is not truly invested in finding out the answers – whether those answers prove the hypothesis or not.
Do you have any advice for young students interested in pursuing science? For organizations interested in becoming involved at Intel ISEF?
Any student interested in a science career should know that – no matter what they think that career will look like – they have no idea what lies ahead of them. There are so many options and opportunities that await them.
Companies involved with Intel ISEF will find themselves inspired. For LANXESS, all of our employees who served as judges, volunteers or just attended out of curiosity came away with a feeling of hope regarding the next generation of researchers and scientists.
Winners of the 2012 LANXESS Green Chemistry Award at Intel ISEF were Claudia Huang of Carmel, Indiana for “Development of a Green Solvent and Catalyst System for Suzuki Coupling Reactions;” Gargi Pare from Madhya Pradesh, India for “Nano Zero Valent Iron: Solution for Coloured Wastewater Remediation;” and Jack Erdozain, Jr. from Palmetto Bay, Florida for “The Electrochemical Effects of Saccharides on the Voltage Output of a Microbial Fuel Cell Using Penicillium chrysogenum.”
Engaging in science research can impart a variety of skills—problem-solving, critical thinking, collaboration and effective communication, to name a few.
In 2003, we were being recruited to head up judging at Intel ISEF, which was being held in Phoenix two years later.