Science

Girls Doing Science, Kicking Ass

Names may have been taken, as well.

As if you all needed any more proof that chicks can do science just as well as dudes, the Sciencewomen blog is reporting that 17-year old women swept the top prizes at the International Science and Engineering Fair yesterday. Rock on, ladies! Details after the jump.

Three talented, hard working, and lucky students are the recipients of the Intel Foundation Young Scientist Award, which includes a $50,000 college scholarship. This year’s winners are:

* Efficient Hydrogen Production Using Cu-Zn-Al Catalysts Prepared by Homogeneous Precipitation Method by Yi-Han Su, 17 from Taipei Municipal First Girls’ Senior High School in Taipei. (A girl! From Taiwan! And I happened to pick up her abstract and take a picture of her board! (I’ll have the pic and highlights from the abstract later this afternoon)

* Development of Biosensors for Detecting Hazardous Chemicals by Natalie Saranga Omattage, 17, from The Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science in Columbus. (Another girl!)

* Computation of the Alexander-Conway Polynomial on the Chord Diagrams of Singular Knots by
Sana Raoof, 17 of Jericho High School in Jericho, New York. (Another girl! It’s a sweep!

That’s pretty damned awesome. My own science fair projects were unambitious on their own, let alone compared to those hardcore winners. The only one I really remember was a study of whether or not video games improve reaction time. I think it was inconclusive but honestly I can’t even remember.

So what was your favorite high school science fair project? And if you had to do a project today, complete with that tri-fold cardboard thing, what would you do?

Oh by the way, tune in tomorrow at 1pm ET for another liveblogging of a Skepchick chat, this time about catcalling, snarkiness, and feminism!

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Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

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15 Comments

  1. About a year ago I helped a friend’s younger sister (about 14) with a science fair project. I taught her and her partner how to do a standard two-person mind-reading act. They started by surveying the class about whether psychic phenomenon existed, then did the demonstration, then surveyed the class again to see if anyone’s opinion changed.

    (Sadly, almost no-one’s did – most comments were along the lines of, “I don’t know how you did it, but you’re just doing a trick. But those other people, they’re really psychic.” A reasonable response, since just b/c a feat *can* be done by trickery doesn’t mean there isn’t actual psychic abilities, but we were really hoping for bigger cracks in their confidence of their classmates.)

    At any rate, the project did take second place in the school’s science fair.

  2. Good for them. I hope they stick with it and make it a career. I love seeing anyone male or female interested in science. I caught a Mythbusters’s special by accident the other day called the Young Scientists Challenge where the Mythbuster crew teamed up with teenaged boys and girls on science experiements with a mythbusters twist. The young ladies harvested methane from cow crap and powered a lawn mower with it.

    I also saw a freaking hot lady on Colbert the other night. She had written a book where she claims that the real reason the Titanic sank was faulty rivets made of substandard iron. Clobert asks her what qualified her to say this and she said “Well, I do have a Phd in meatlurgy.” Damn, she was so hot and she was a scientist too, that made her so much hotter.

  3. I don’t remember there being a science fair at my high school. We did have one in elementary school and I once got second place for some awful thing about water pollution. Apparently after that science fair some parent complained about there being a 1st, 2nd and third place, so the next year there were only two awards. There was a special achievement award given out to a dozen or so different projects and another award given to everyone else that said something along the lines of “If you tried your hardest, you won” ( no joke :( ). I was only a kid, but do strongly remember thinking that that came off as an insult.

    I think that if I were trying today I would attempt to build a functioning model of Project Orion entirely out cardboard, elmer’s glue, googly eyes, and pipe cleaners. Oddly, I work with 3d graphics, but my lack of ability to build anything with my hands leads me to think I would do better at the elementary science fair level.

  4. I won 3rd place in a grade school science fair for a project that explained and demonstrated the greenhouse effect.

    As far as what project I would do now – I may be doing a project, or more of a study, that I’ll be blogging about as soon as I have a spare moment.

  5. I actually won first place in my division in the Texas State HS science fair competition. Didn’t win the over-all prize, though, so didn’t go to National.

    There was some controversy over my use of a Chi-squared analysis of my data; I still blame that for my loss :D

  6. My sole science fair project in school was done on fingerprints. I can’t for the life of me remember what about fingerprints, but it did involve my family going over to the county sheriff’s office and my dad taking our fingerprints on the same forms that he uses for his job.

    But I’ve got nothin’ on my sister’s fifth grade science fair project. Hers was to test if blondes were dumber than brunettes and redheads. Turns out that redheads were actually the dumbest.

  7. I never did a science fair project in High School… That was after I figured out that if you carry an 82 average for the year, you can take a zero on the final and still pass the class, so that’s what I did. (See kids? Math can be useful in the real world!)

    My best friend did this memory study thing where he gave groups of people lists of ten words, and graphed how well they could remember one of the lists out of the two, three, or four lists they were given. Only reason I remember it is because his teacher looked at the graph, picked a point and recognized it as me, which gave me quite a laugh.

    Now, I’d probably do a project testing the reactions of people to seeing a stupidly attractive woman walking down a college hallway holding one of those boards and wearing tearaway clothes, which a plant would rip off of her as they walked by. Different things under the tearaway clothes would make it more interesting. I think a Sharpie mural covering her arms and torso would get a stronger reaction than a bikini… I also think the demonstration of the test in front of the judges would go a long way towards raising my score.

  8. “Efficient Hydrogen Production Using Cu-Zn-Al Catalysts Prepared by Homogeneous Precipitation Method ”

    Man I’m thoroughly humbled that a teenager does this with ease while it looks like static to me. Rock on ladies~!

  9. Well at least you understand the first four words, I expect right? What about “Computation of the Alexander-Conway Polynomial on the Chord Diagrams of Singular Knots”? I don’t get _any_ of that and I have a PhD in (Applied) Mathematics.

  10. My high school science project involved hi-temp superconductors. I made one out of Yt, Ba, and Cu oxides, which I had to grind together by hand because we didn’t have a power grinder :oP I spent a couple weeks in the lab after school to finish it. Unfortunately, it didn’t work very well. I was only able to demonstrate zero electrical resistance erratically. And it was no good for demonstrating the Meissner effect (levitating a permanent magnet). Luckily, my teacher had one that he’d made previously that worked better. As a bonus, the whole class got to have fun playing with the liquid nitrogen after I finished my demo :o)

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