|Deciding on a project & Category|
|Looking for Help|
|Literature Research & Bibliography|
|Doing the Project|
|Preparing an Abstract|
|Setting Up a Project Board|
|Some Advice Regarding Competition|
|Elements of Science-Engineering|
Dear Chairman Bill Dresher and President Jack Johnson,
I was fortunate enough to be selected to be one of the 30 students from across the country selected as a Broadcom Master as it launched its first year. I am grateful to all of the donors and sponsors who contribute to SARSEF so that I could even be nominated, and to all of the Board members and volunteers who make our Regional Fair possible.
A list of advice for those students who might want to enter follows this description of the event.
It all began when I was one of several students nominated by the Southern Arizona Regional Science and Engineering Fair in March of 2011. I was sent a questionnaire and application to fill out – a very long application. It took several days over the course of a few weeks to complete but even if I had not advanced it was interesting to do because it made me think about my project in a whole new way. Yes, I had to describe my project but I also had to analyze it in terms of how I used STEM: Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics throughout. This was not something I had thought of before. It also had a section about career exploration. Instead of depending on my usual answer for what I want to be when I grow up –I had to research OTHER possible careers through some pre-set sites. And finally, a major part of the application was to find out about us as people. They asked lots of questions about what we did for others, what we did for fun, and who our mentors and heroes were.
I encourage other students who have a chance to enter to really take the time to weigh each answer and measure each word. Every word has to have impact, and count since there are strict word limits for each question. And I also encourage other students to complete the packet even though it is long and hard. It is worth it!
Any student who completes the packet, receives a free t-shirt and gift card to Walmart. If they advance to the semi-finals they will receive another gift card and their teacher will receive one as well. Out of the 6,000 nominations across the county only 1,463 students completed the packet this first year. From there, they narrowed it down to 300 semi-finalists and then, finally, 30 finalists. I received a call from the Society for Science and the Public at the end of August and from there I knew that I would be going on to compete further with 29 of the students from across the country. We mailed our boards in boxes that were provided, complete with pre-paid postage. The competition began with a wonderful flight; free of cost, on America Airlines to Washington D.C. Everything was arranged for us in advance, from our stay at the famous Palomar Hotel to dinners out at local restaurants.
When we were flying into in Washington DC it was amazing to see all of the important monuments from above. It is just ten years after 9/11 and looking down at them, it was pretty powerful to see them standing there. Only the Washington Monument looked any different. It had mosquito- like men hanging from ropes repelling down to check for cracks that were caused by the recent earthquake.
Once we landed we had time to go visit the Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam Wall, the WWII Memorial, and the White House. The next day, before the competition officially began I was able to visit two of the Smithsonian Museums. They were amazing. The first night we did team building, getting to know the other four people that would comprise our team for the week.
The very next morning we headed off for a group photo on Capitol Hill. Then, we prepared for judging, standing in front of our projects and answering questions through the morning. Public Viewing Day followed that afternoon. By the evening we were ready to relax and we did on a Moonlight Monument Tour that included the new Martin Luther King memorial and the Jefferson memorial. Both were amazing, shining out through the night and through history.
The competition continued the next morning with STEM challenges to test our personal knowledge and abilities. It was sometimes difficult to work as a team and yet show what you knew. We did things like try to design a electrical system for a model house, a way to filter water, and build a suspension bridge as well as two other challenges. Afterwards we relaxed at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland.
The next day we had fun designing a Rube Goldberg machine that would successfully serve dog food into a bowl, as well as a science relay and a innovative plan. Some kids went off to film a segment of a TV show with John Stewart from the Daily Show while others of us went to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. The day ended with a historic ghost tour of Alexandria, Virginia. It taught us so much history along the way as well.
When the last day came it was hard to believe that it was all almost over. We met the Chief Science Advisor to the President in the Offices of the Vice President. Then, we traveled to Capitol Hill, this time to meet with our Senators and Congressmen. I was fortunate to have been honored a few weeks ago by Gabrielle Giffords office here in Tucson since we all know why she could not be present on “the Hill.” Her offices there in DC were so busy but they took time to meet with me and it was fun to see where she worked and hopefully will again soon. It was also interesting to see the differences in each side of Congress.
When the final Awards Ceremony Diner came, I got to sit with all of the heads of Broadcom and SSP, as well as next to Joe Palca from NPR Science Fridays who was our own MC. When the time came for awards, it was no surprise to see who won. Anyone could have won since everyone there was so smart and they were all amazing, but the ones who did truly deserved it. First prize was a $25,000 scholarship, 2nd Prize was a $10,000 scholarship and 3rd was a $5,000 scholarship. An IPAD was given to the four students who best exemplified the four principles of STEM. And all of us were awarded a minor planet (asteroid) in our name as well as $500! Our schools will get $1,000 as well.
It was a wonderful trip and so worth the effort that it took to enter. We were treated and fed like royalty. I thank Broadcom and the Society for Science for all of their hard work and especially, all of those donors and volunteers in Southern Arizona who care about all of us students, each year.
For future students who have a chance to enter, here is what I would suggest:
· Start right away, as soon as you get the packet (usually sent on-line)
· Plan to spend several weeks working on it. Do it a little at a time so all your answers are equally fresh.
· Cut and paste the questions into a Word Document. When you are all done, then you can cut and paste them back into the
· Make every word count. Do not just rush through a question because it seems like an easy one. Think of the judge
reading your answer and if it would make an impact.
· Think about how to get the judges to remember you as a person. Try to connect your answers.
· Count every word. They will cut off your answer mid-sentence if you miscount. Some are short answers (150 words) and some
are longer but make every word important.
· Proofread and have others proofread your answers as well.
· They will ask you about who helped you and who inspires you –be thinking about that.
· They will also ask you about how your project used all four STEM principles. At first you will not think you did –but stop and
think about where you made graphs or averaged –that is Math. Think about what technology you used or how you had to design
something to make it work better. Ask your teacher for help if you need to see how what you did fits.
· Keep going back and editing some more, making sure you have a unique answer or something that will make a judge remember
· Finish it. It does seem endless at times but if you do jut a little each week, it will get done. It is one of the ways they weed out
people who don’t care enough so show them you do care and finish the application. Make them consider you!
· Spread the word to others that this is totally worth doing!
By Meagan Bethel, 2011 Finalist
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