School Students May 8-13.
“In Jordan we use the pomegranate to treat many infectious diseases. There is a new strain of /Klebsiella pneumoniae/ [pneumonia bacteria] which resists the known antibiotics, so this [compound extracted from pomegranate rind] can be a new antibiotic to kill or affect the bacteria…”
This was not an M.D. or postdoc or graduate student in microbiology
talking. In May 2010, Ghayda Ismat Alhawamdeh was a high school student presenting at the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in San Jose, CA.
This month, when 1600 high school students from more than 50 countries bring their prize-winning projects to the LA Convention Center for the 2011 ISEF competition, the students are not the only ones who will be excited.
“To come to an event like ISEF, to see younger students at the high
school level where they’re universally motivated and excited about
science, is very inspiring for us as well” said San Jose State Chemistry professor Roy Okuda, who volunteered to judge a recent competition.
Reactions like these convinced SCALACS Chair Dr. Joseph Khoury to help out by recruiting ten of the 1200 judges needed for this year’s event. “At first I thought we /should/ support this for the sake of the high school students and teachers involved. But now the enthusiasm and passion of everyone who has been there before made me want to get involved for my own sake.” In addition to serving as judges, SCALACS members will help staff an ACS booth at the event to describe educational programs and benefits provided by both local and national ACS organizations.
“Having come just once, you’re hooked for life, because this is a very, very exciting experience,” says 1986 Nobel laureate Dudley Herschbach of Harvard.”
The enthusiasm of the judges is reflected by some impressive awards from the sponsors (http://www.societyforscience.org/isef/grandawards). Students compete in 17 categories
(http://www.societyforscience.org/isef/project_categories), from animal science to chemistry to medicine to energy to math. Each category winner gets a $5000 scholarship from Intel plus an ISEF award of $ 3000, plus awards to their schools and smaller awards for 2nd-4th place entries.
Really big prizes go to the best among the best of category
choices: Intel’s founder Gordon E. Moore, has endowed an annual prize of $75,000 for the overall best project, and in separate judging, the two highest-ranked category winners receive $50,000 each from the Society for Science and the Public and from the Intel Foundation.
Students also have the opportunity to win travel prizes: awards named for Herschbach and the late UC Berkely Nobleist Glenn Seaborg provide several students with all-expense-paid trips to the International Youth Science Seminar. This annual gathering of young scientists takes place in Stockholm during the Nobel Prize ceremony. In recent years, winning students have come from from Shanghai, Budapest, Chicago, Provo Utah, Taipei, Germany, New Jersey, Ohio, South Korea, Oregon among others.
On Thursday, May 12th, the public is invited to view the project exhibits from 9 AM to 9 PM.The contestants will be there to answer questions from 10-2 PM. (http://www.societyforscience.org/page.aspx?pid=741) Several
thousand local K-12 students are expected to attend. Event
organizers are still seeking volunteers to help with outreach activities
on Friday, May 6 and Thursday, May 12. If you are interested, go to the volunteers page:
Watch videos of ISEF 2010 on YouTube: