Middle School Student Develops Novel Solar Panel System; Wins $25,000 Top Award in the National Broadcom MASTERS Competition

Broadcom MASTERS Awards $100,000 in Prizes Inspiring and Rewarding the Nation’s Next Generation of Scientists, Engineers and Innovators

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WASHINGTON, Oct. 23, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Broadcom Foundation and Society for Science & the Public today announced that Georgia Hutchinson, 13, Woodside, California, won the coveted $25,000 Samueli Foundation Prize, the top award in the Broadcom MASTERS®, the nation’s premier science and engineering competition for middle school students.

Georgia’s more efficient and cost-effective solar power system relies on data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to determine where the sun will be at any date and time. She built a computer model to illustrate how electricity from solar panels pointed at those spots would compare to electricity produced by fixed-position panels and created a computer program to control her tracker’s motor and the position of the solar panels.

The Broadcom MASTERS (Math, Applied Science, Technology, and Engineering for Rising Stars), a program of the Society for Science & the Public, inspires middle school students to follow their personal passions to exciting college and career pathways in STEM. Thirty finalists, including Georgia, took home more than $100,000 in awards.  They were honored during an awards ceremony for their achievements in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) together with their demonstration of 21st Century skills including critical thinking, communication, creativity, collaborative skills and team work.

The finalists are judged on projects that they presented at their state or regional science fair; their knowledge of STEM subjects and their demonstration of 21st Century skills in a series of hands-on challenges. These challenges include designing a new type of shark tag; designing, coding and building a functional program using Raspberry Pi and Sense Hat; and determining how long it would take for a zombie pathogen to infect the world’s population.

“I am thrilled to congratulate Georgia, whose project focused on creating a lower cost solar panel system,” said Maya Ajmera, President and CEO of the Society for Science & the Public and Publisher of Science News. “Middle school is a critical time of transition for young people, where they are figuring out their path forward. I’m proud that through the Broadcom MASTERS, the Society and the Broadcom Foundation are able to support and cultivate an interest in STEM for thousands of middle schoolers around the country.”

“The Broadcom MASTERS taps ten percent of young people participating in state and regional science fairs throughout the STEM Ecosystem to participate in this national competition. These kids are exemplars of the quality work being done by middles schoolers with their teachers, mentors and families throughout the US. The Top 300 and 30 finalists are representative of special young people who are preparing themselves to solve the Grand Challenges we face through the world,” said Paula Golden, President of the Broadcom Foundation. “The Broadcom Foundation is honored to champion young scientists, engineers and innovators and spur them on to greatness.”

Georgia Hutchinson, 13, Woodside, California, won the $25,000 Prize, for her project creating more cost-effective solar panels. The prize is a gift of Dr. Henry Samueli, co-founder of Broadcom Corporation and Chair of the Broadcom Foundation and his wife, Dr. Susan Samueli, President of the Samueli Foundation.

Jack Albright, 14, Hillsborough, California, won the $20,000 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Award for Health Advancement, which recognizes the student whose work and performance shows the most promise in health-related fields. Albright developed a machine learning tool to predict the onset of mild and severe impacts from Alzheimer’s on cognitive abilities.

Jacqueline Prawira, 13, Mountain House, California, won the $10,000 Marconi/Samueli Award for Innovation, an honor made possible by Samueli’s generous donation of his 2012 Marconi Society Prize Award.  Prawira’s project explored how fibers from common plant-based materials found in garbage could improve the formation and strength of plastic, enabling people to make better use of materials that would otherwise be thrown away.

John Madland 14, Salem, Oregon, won the $7,500 Lemelson Award for Invention, awarded by The Lemelson Foundation to a young inventor creating promising solutions to real-world problems. Madland’s project involved creating a model showing that a magnetic shield set above the surface of Mars might, in the future, protect people on the planet’s surface.

Broadcom MASTERS winners were chosen from the 30 finalists (14 girls and 16 boys) selected from 2,537 applicants in 35 states. Winners were selected by a panel of distinguished scientists, engineers and educators. Each finalist’s school will receive $1,000 from the Broadcom MASTERS to benefit their science program.

In addition to the top prizes, the Broadcom Foundation and the Society also announced first and second place winners in each of the STEM categories of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, the Team Award and two Rising Stars who will be the U.S. delegates at the Broadcom MASTERS International and official observers to Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF).

Winners Include:

The Samueli Foundation Prize: $25,000
Georgia Hutchinson, Woodside Elementary School: Woodside, California
Designing a Data-Driven Dual Axis Solar Tracker

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Award for Health Advancement: $20,000
Jack Albright, The Nueva School: Hillsborough, California
Predicting the Future: Using Machine Learning to Forecast the Progression of Alzheimer’s Disease

Marconi/Samueli Award for Innovation: $10,000
Jacqueline Prawira, Altamont Elementary School: Mountain House, California
Bio.fiber.plastic: The Effect of Lignocellulosic Fiber in Enhancing the Formation and Tensile Strength of Rice Bioplastic

Lemelson Award for Invention: $7,500
John Madland, Leslie Middle School: Salem, Oregon
Terrella Aurora Model: A Demonstration of Charged Particle Shielding for Space Exploration

STEM Award Winners:
First and second place winners of STEM Awards demonstrated acumen and promise in science, technology, engineering and math. First place winners were awarded $3,500 and second place winners receive $2,500 to support his or her choice of a STEM summer camp experience in the U.S. Each STEM Award winner also received an iPad. Top awards in math were sponsored by Robert John Floe, President, Floe Financial Partners.

Science Award:

  • First place: Amara Orth, Council Bluffs, IowaChemical Analysis of Honey Bee Propolis: Habitat Diversity Affects the Quality of Propolis – An Essential Component of Honey Bee Colonies
  • Second place: Janani Kumaran Gainesville, FloridaIntegrated Control of the Invasive Aquatic Plant Hydrilla Using Snails and a Plant Growth Regulator (Continuation Project: Year 2)

Technology Award:

  • First place: Gabriella Lui, Palatine, IllinoisDesign a Fully Automated Real-Time Presence Detection Safety System in a School Environment Using Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Technology
  • Second place: Gary Zhan, Logan, UtahThe Colder, the Bluer—Significant Enhancement of Indigoidine Production Using a Cold-Shock Inducible Promoter

Engineering Award:

  • First place: Alice Feng, San Jose, CaliforniaThe Effect of Mushroom Species and Substrates on the Properties of a Novel Biodegradable Material: Mycelium
  • Second Place: Mihir Nitin Joshi, Salem, OregonTerrella Aurora Model: A Demonstration of Charged Particle Shielding for Space Exploration

Mathematics Award:

  • First Place: Espen Slettnes, Castro Valley, CaliforniaMinimal Embedding Dimensions of Rectangle k-Visibility Graphs
  • Second place: Asmi Kumar, Milton, GeorgiaDeveloping a Device to Predict Autistic Meltdowns Using Arduino and MS Azure

Rising Stars Award:
In recognition of their promise as the youngest competitors, two Rising Stars win a trip to Phoenix, Arizona in May 2019as the United States delegate to Broadcom MASTERS International and Official Observer at Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), the world’s largest international high school science fair competition.

  • Kate Quinn, Louisville, KentuckyExploring Atrazine’s Neurotoxicity as a Possible Cause of Parkinson’s Disease
  • Sriram Bhimaraju, Cupertino, CaliforniaLow-Cost Archery Assistant with an Interface for the Visually Impaired

Team Award:
Each member of the team that best demonstrates their ability to work together and solve problems through shared decision making, communication and scientific and engineering collaboration will receive an iPod Touch.

  • Black Team: Sriram Bhimaraju, Laura Maria Reilly-Sanchez, Tyler Bissoondial, Akshaya Venketesh and Asmi Kumar

Scott A. McGregor Leadership Award:
Finalists select one student from the group based on their leadership abilities to represent their class as a speaker at the awards ceremony.

  • Gary Zhan, Logan, UtahThe Colder, the Bluer—Significant Enhancement of Indigoidine Production Using a Cold-Shock Inducible Promoter

Resources:
For more information on the Broadcom MASTERS, visit the Broadcom Foundation and Society websites. To keep up with the Broadcom MASTERS, use the hashtag #brcmMASTERS or follow Broadcom Foundation and the Society on Twitter or the Society on Instagram. And to stay connected, visit the Broadcom MASTERS and Society Facebook pages. You can also follow the Society on Snapchat (Society4Science).

About Broadcom Foundation
Founded in April 2009, the Broadcom Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation the mission of advancing science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education by funding research, recognizing scholarship and increasing opportunity.

The foundation inspires young people to pursue careers in STEM and to develop 21st Century skills of critical thinking, collaboration, communication and creativity.  It is a founding member of the National STEM Funders Network and plays a leadership role in the STEM Education Ecosystem Initiative in the US and Israel.

The foundation’s signature programs, the Broadcom MASTERS® and the Broadcom MASTERS® International, are the premier science and engineering competitions for middle school students around the United States and the world.

Learn more at http://broadcomfoundation.org/ and follow us on Twitter (@BroadcomSTEM).

About Society for Science & the Public
Society for Science & the Public is dedicated to the achievement of young scientists in independent research and to public engagement in science. Established in 1921, the Society is a nonprofit whose vision is to promote the understanding and appreciation of science and the vital role it plays in human advancement. Through its world-class competitions, including the Regeneron Science Talent Search, the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, and the Broadcom MASTERS, and its award-winning magazine, Science News and Science News for Students, Society for Science & the Public is committed to inform, educate, and inspire. Learn more at www.societyforscience.org and follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Snapchat (Society4Science).