Students at the Phoenix Convention Center are competing for $3 million in cash, scholarships and prizes, including a grand prize of $75,000 at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.
Christine Caspagna is a ninth grader at the Academy of Science and Technology in The Woodlands.
“Well, what my project is about is normally solar cells are placed in fields and on roofs where they can lay horizontally and really soak up the sun. And I was wondering why we can’t place solar cells vertically on the sides of infrastructure — high-rise buildings, et cetera, and have it be just as efficient. So my project, I use reflecting light in several ways to try to collect electricity amounts that were just as efficient as just normally horizontally-placed solar cells.”
This competition is like a mini-United Nations. There are students from 70 countries competing in 17 categories.
If you Google ISEF under “news,” you’ll see articles from around the world on students who aced earlier competitions to be at this one.
Students explain their projects to judges who file past their poster boards. Most contestants speak English, but Intel has enlisted volunteers to work as interpreters who can explain students’ research to the judges.
Namrata Duxami comes to the competition from Georgia.
“Yeah, you definitely get a lot of feedback from the judges and just from the people around you, you learn like how much knowledge people around the United States and the world know, comparatively to you. And you could see where like, how creative people can be, and also the judges give you a lot of feedback on how you can improve your project for next year, because they know that we’ll hopefully be coming back next year and the year after.”
Namrata’s brother Nabin is also a participant in the science fair.
“It all started at a regional science fair and me and my sister were the two top awards. We both got the grand prize, and so from our region they could take two that qualify at internationals, and so me and my sister were the two that qualified. And then now I’m here at international.”
Ed Mayberry: “Slightly unusual for brother and sister to go along all the way through this process.”
“Oh, it really, yeah, it is. Last year I was by myself, but this year she’s come along. It’s actually kind of fun like that.”
The Intel International Science and Engineering Fair is the world’s largest international pre-college science competition, and ends today with the Grand Awards ceremony.