Monday, May 20, 2013

Austin Area Students Win at International Science Fair

From left to right:
Casey Hicks, Leah Powers, London Bolsius, Jahan Rabii, Jessica Wang, Alex Crisara, Advaith Anand, Lily Xu, Susan Xu, Vanna Hovanky
Ten students, representing six “Best of Fair” science projects from the Austin Energy Regional Science Festival (AERSF), traveled to Phoenix, AZ, last week to participate in the Intel International Science and Engineering fair (Intel ISEF).

Intel ISEF, the world’s largest pre-collegiate science competition, played host to more than 1,600 students from the US and 70 foreign countries or territories. The students competed in 17 science categories for 1st through 4th category places, as well as more than 30 Special Awards from universities, government agencies and professional associations.

London Bolsius, a Sophomore from Round Rock High School, won a 1st place special award and $2,500 from SPIE-The International Society for Optical Engineering; His project,”3D Scanner,” was awarded a second place and $1,500 in the Computer category of International. As a result, London will have an asteroid named in his honor – a distinction given to all 1st and 2nd place category winners at Intel ISEF, putting him in the same category as Albert Einstein, Madame Curie and - - the Beatles.

Jahan Rabii and Alex Crisara, a Junior and a Senior respectively from Anderson High School in Austin, won a 2nd place special award and $2,000 from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and $3,000 in stocks from the United Technologies Corporation. Their team project, “Algae-Based Life Support for Long Duration Spaceflight”, also placed third in the competition category of Engineering: Materials and  Bioengineering, winning them another $1,000 in prize money.

Other AERSF students who attended Intel ISEF were Casey Hicks and Leah Powers, Seniors from Vista Ridge High School in Leander who competed in the Biochemistry category with a project that investigated natural remedies for antibiotic resistant bacteria; Jessica Wang, Lily Xu (Juniors - Liberal Arts and Science Academy, Austin) and Susan Xu (Junior- Kingwood High, Houston) developed a Cellular and Molecular Biology project that predicts more accurately whether patients with the cystic fibrosis gene will actually develop the disease; Vanna Hovanky (Junior - Bowie High School, Austin) studied a colon cancer fighting mechanism in Microbiology; and Advaith Anand (Junior - Liberal Arts and Science Academy, Austin), also in Engineering: Materials and  Bioengineering found new materials for separating natural gas from liquids, rendering it usable more efficiently.

The Austin Energy Regional Science Festival is one of the largest of 14 regional science fairs across Texas. It serves 23 Central Texas school districts and is one of only a few regional fairs that include elementary school students. Austin Energy is the organizer and main sponsor of the fair. Other industry sponsors include Intel, BAE Systems, Synopsys (whose travel grant paid for the students’ trip to Intel ISEF), Oransi, Compass Learning, the City of Austin’ Office of Sustainability, Tokyo Electron, the LCRA, Austin Water and the Travis County Medical Alliance.

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