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It's so great to see the subject of science fairs become a hot topic here among the Kos cognoscenti--

To DailyKos readers the problems of plastic pollution are not new - it sits in landfills for millenia. Floats in the ocean and animals eat it or get caught in it and drown.

The slurry of chemicals from degrading plastic hurts human health, animal health, and soil and ocean health.

Well Daniel was sick and tired of it and came up with a solution for his science fair project.

-- not only because it's gratifying to discuss the ways in which our most urgently pressing environmental concerns are now being tackled by kids doing science projects, but also because of the ideas this development evokes, the further conversations that arise from this observation.

Photobucket

Earlier this month, some colleagues (and quasi-colleagues) of mine had the opportunity to attend the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Atlanta.

Many of the projects in competition at ISEF pertained to environmental concerns, and many of them were no less impressive than Daniel Burd's celebrated plastic-degrading acheivement:

As ecogeeks, we tend to have a number of gadgets around, many of them powered by batteries. When we throw them away, they either go to landfill, where their toxic chemicals pollute the soil and water, or we recycle them, reusing their components.

That’s what 3 Brazilian students are doing, but in a very unique way. Camila da Silva Bruzadelli, Alan Juliano de Andrade and Deborah Asbahr, of Limeira, Brazil, have discovered a way to make pigmentation that can be used in ceramics coloring, from batteries.

So that's one tangent. Another is that, of over 1,500 participants from around the globe, three won top honors, and all three were young women.

Three talented, hard working, and lucky students are the recipients of the Intel Foundation Young Scientist Award, which includes a $50,000 college scholarship. This year's winners are:
   

* Efficient Hydrogen Production Using Cu-Zn-Al Catalysts Prepared by Homogeneous Precipitation Method by Yi-Han Su, 17 from Taipei Municipal First Girls' Senior High School in Taipei.

   

* Development of Biosensors for Detecting Hazardous Chemicals by Natalie Saranga Omattage, 17, from The Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science in Columbus.

   

* Computation of the Alexander-Conway Polynomial on the Chord Diagrams of Singular Knots by Sana Raoof, 17 of Jericho High School in Jericho, New York.

-- That's from the inestimable Science Woman, who also provides the photo above. Here, she shares about the pivotal role that science fairs have played in her early life and career:

I was a nervous high school student competing at ISEF, sharing my research with the judges, and making friends from across the country. Science fairs were easily the most influential part of my pre-college education and probably the sole reason that I am a scientist today. Science fairs took a nerdy, socially awkward, bookworm and transformed her into someone with speaking, writing, investigative skills, and with confidence to take on the world.

The goal of Intel Inspire is to innovate-- not merely in the fields of science and education, but most explicitly in the lives of young people.

I'll be talking more about the ways in which this effort plays out in future posts in this series.

(Hat tip for the post's title goes to this absolute gem from the Achewood Song Fight Archive.)

Originally posted to Payne on Fri May 30, 2008 at 10:34 AM PDT.

Poll

Have you ever been to a science fair?

7%4 votes
42%23 votes
18%10 votes
3%2 votes
27%15 votes

| 54 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Go science! n/t (6+ / 0-)

    -6.0/-6.21 Countdown to clinching the nomination. 41 to go!

    by doctorgirl on Fri May 30, 2008 at 10:46:13 AM PDT

  •  The homeschoolers' science fairs were great! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    buzz in illinois, Payne, blueocean

    One year, my sons made a trebuchet,* and another kid made a bed of nails and laid down on it!

    Another time, one of my sons did a demonstration about probability, gambling, and statistics.  I still have the nearly complete raccoon skeleton that #2 son used for a comparative anatomy project.  (We had shot the raccoon for getting into our poultry shed, and found its bones by the creek a year later.)  

    The homeschooling group also had a biography fair and a geography fair annually.  Very fun!

    *Actually, two:  one full siege engine size for the backyard and a miniature one to take to the fair and throw nerf(tm) balls.

    To say my fate is not tied to your fate is like saying, "Your end of the boat is sinking."--Hugh Downs

    by Dar Nirron on Fri May 30, 2008 at 10:57:56 AM PDT

    •  wait... what's a trebuchet? (0+ / 0-)

      Did your sons take their projects to ISEF, or another science fair? I love science fairs in general-- but there is actually a home-school representation at ISEF.

      What home-school blogs do you read? Are there any you know of with a specific science focus?

      •  A trebuchet is a lot like a catapult. (0+ / 0-)

        The boys calculated the trajectory and the distance of the projectiles as part of their project.  They also constructed a spud gun that ran on compressed air.  For a while, it looked as if we were going to declare war on the next county.  :-)

        We did not go on to another science fair, because we were not "sanctioned" by anyone official.  

        The motherlode of homeschooling links and organizations is maintained by Ann Zeise here.

        To say my fate is not tied to your fate is like saying, "Your end of the boat is sinking."--Hugh Downs

        by Dar Nirron on Fri May 30, 2008 at 04:45:33 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Emphasis on innovation and science is why (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    doctorgirl, blueocean

    I finally leaned for Obama last winter.

    It is difficult to get a man to understand something if his livelihood depends upon his not understanding it. --Upton Sinclair

    by cityvitalsigns on Fri May 30, 2008 at 11:04:57 AM PDT

  •  Awesome! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    buzz in illinois

    Great post Payne...really cool to learn about this ISEF program. Sounds like Intel is doing more than just making computer chips...promoting a passion for learning and innovation - especially from the private sector- is great to see. And who knows, maybe the next Einstein or Bohr will be an ISEF winner! Thanks again for the info, great stuff.

  •  Other Programs to look into... (0+ / 0-)

    ..include Destination Imagination ("DI") which recently had its Global Finals in Knoxville, TN.  The "DI" program is all about problem solving which is at the heart of all science and technology processes.  The DI model uses fun problems to excersize the kids' problem-solving muscles so they are able to go on to solve more technologically challenging problems later in life. DI kids are always looking for solutions, not giving up because they are out of their comfort zone. Very inspiring kids and adult voluteers make this program work. Check it out in your state or school district.

    Links
    http://www.destinationimagination.org
    http://www.global-finals.org

  •  I disagree (0+ / 0-)

    I have a masters in IT and have found that to be a oneway ticket to unemployment. Life expectancy in a position is about 18 months, then you get downsized or outsourced. Then it's 7 months of job searching to get the next spot. I would never recommend Computer Science as a career for a young person.

    My cousin is a PhD in Chemistry. He has experienced the same thing in the hard sciences. He is currently unemployed after being outsourced from his research position at Dow Chemical. He told me that he would never recommend to a young person that they pursue a career in chemistry.

    In short, in this country, science is a non-starter.

    Young people - don't bother to pursue science. What is a good career path? I have no idea. But science ain't it. Take my word for it.

    Sorry about that gate.

    by pucklady on Fri May 30, 2008 at 08:56:34 PM PDT

    •  get the degree, move to India or China n/t (0+ / 0-)
    •  Science not valued by our society or politicos (0+ / 0-)

      I"m in biological/biomedical research and it is one of the lowest paid fields for a person with a Ph.D., so much so that it's quite shocking.
      My group researches cellular biological functions as they relate to TB, HIV, and other deadly diseases.

      For this valiant effort your starting pay post Ph.D. is $30K and a slow creep upward.  Administrator's pay increases leave your's in the dust.
      An engineer, with just an MS, can look forward to starting at $60K+

      After worrying about your own ability to make a living, then there is the constant fight for the now dwindling NIH grant dollar.
      For a group of people who are seeking the secrets and cures of diseases and disorders that threaten every member of our citizenry and beyond, there is very little glory, relatively little in the way of renumeration, and it's no wonder that even our foreign scientists are finding that affording a house and family means going overseas or back home.  India is a funding powerhouse these days. Americans are even seeking jobs there.

      Besides medical science, alternative energy research is another area that has been treated as a joke for the past 3 decades.  We should have been so much farther along in this field.  

      But what's even more disappointing is that the 3 blind mice running for the presidency, those who are considered the "frontrunners," can't even be bothered to participate in Science Debate 2008.

      They shunned this very important event organized by a wide swath of the scientific community yet found plenty of time to participate in a "debate" of their "faith" and "values."
      Three alternative party candidates however, found the time to devote to science.

      This, America, underscores the title of this thread . . .  What We Need More of is Science.   and candidates who value science, obviously.

  •  Achewood at DKos? Gadzooks. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Payne

    Well, either Achewoodor Song Fight!, I guess.

  •  I added the 'teaching' tag (0+ / 0-)

    and will include this in Daily Kos University which goes up at 9:05 AM Eastern, but stays open all week.

    No fees, no tests, no grades.... just learning!  Stop on by.

  •  A career in science can be very fulfilling (0+ / 0-)

    and rewarding.  I know that it can be up and down career wise.  But if you have science in your soul I can't imagine doing anything else.

    One thing we have to break the frame of is the typical "science" career path.  People trained with the critical thinking skills that we get can be tremendous assets in plenty of other fields.  But we need to be better at cross-training people in a couple of things they are interested in.

    I wouldn't change my life in science for any other life at all.  The novelty, the excitement of new discoveries, and the path forward to new knowledge are like a drug high to me.  

    And in the poll, I did say that I was at science fairs--as a participant and a judge.  As I judge I was so impressed by some of the kids who clearly had it in their soul--and I hope some of them pursued it.  Judging was great.  If you are a science or engineering professional and ever have a chance to do it, please do.  It isn't hard, you'll know what questions to ask, and you will have a great time encouraging the kids.  They are always looking for judges for this sort of thing.

    And do support ScienceDebate2008.

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