Amid the palpable electricity buzzing in the concert-sized hall full of Intel ISEF 2016 finalists, there were two towering Tesla coils and a member of Plasma Phonic wearing a special suit in between them. He pushed his face directly into the path of electricity, at one point sifting the current through his hands like a stream of water.
Beeping and 8-bit music from video games filled the air. A room full of middle school and high school students tried to beat, and break, video games during one workshop of the Student Observer program on Wednesday morning.
While Intel ISEF is bustling along, a Student Observer cohort gathers to experience workshops and the finalists' projects together.
Gwynne Ash is an Intel ISEF 1983 finalist who returned as a Grand Awards Judge for Intel ISEF 2016. Now she's excited to see the 2016 finalists' projects. Gwyne is overwhelmed by the quality of their research.
Journey from finalist to judge: I don’t remember not doing science fairs. It's the ultimate in self-expression for kids, if they’re interested in science.
The Society alumni network offers "a chance to reconnect with something that inspired me as a little kid," Suman Nag said at the alumni breakfast Tuesday morning during Intel ISEF festivities.
Suman was surrounded by a room full of Society alumni from all three competitions and years. A handful had achieved the trifecta of competing in each program.
"I haven't been in a community yet that can replicate the feeling at Intel ISEF and during the pin exchange," said Suman, the founder and executive director of ROSA, a DNA testing company. He was an Intel ISEF 2006-2008 finalist.
Learning how to communicate science research effectively is critical. It's the difference between the public believing in a bunk study and funding the important research that scientists do every day.
Twenty-five middle school students from around the world said "hello" in their native languages, from Navajo, to Chinese, to Hebrew, to Welsh on Sunday night. They decorated team posters with catchy names and icebreaker activities.
On March 14, after tinkering at TechShop for Pi Day, the STS 2016 finalists gathered at dinner for the Intel Innovation speeches.
Rosalind Hudnell, the Vice President of Human Resources and Chief Diversity Officer at Intel, called the finalists rockstars. She even snapped a photo during dinner and tweeted it.
"I still feel like an underachiever in this audience," Rosalind said.
David Letterman-style top ten lists, stickers and counterintuitive advice made for a lively visit to the National Institutes of Health during the Intel Science Talent Search finalists’ week in Washington, D.C. in March.
"I started as a young kid with a chemistry set, blowing stuff up," said NIH Director Francis Collins. He discussed the institute's history and goals.