On August 30, thirty middle school students learned that they’ve won an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, DC, in October to showcase their science fair projects and to compete in a four-day competition for awards and prizes. This Broadcom MASTERS competition involves students who formerly competed in a local science and engineering fair affiliated with the Society for Science & the Public (or SSP), which publishes Science News for Kids. Top prize for the new competition: $25,000 presented by the Samueli Foundation, a gift of Susan and Henry Samueli, a founder of Broadcom Corp., which designs and sells semiconductors, materials that help make electronics work. Broadcom Corp. designs semiconductors for use in things like cell phones, computers, and networking devices, such as wireless routers.
At the October event, finalists will be judged both on their project and on their participation in team challenges. There will be four: one each in the so-called STEM fields of science, technology, engineering, and math, The program takes its name for those fields as the MASTERS in Broadcom MASTERS stands for math, applied science, technology, and engineering for rising stars.
Each challenge will test individuals’ understanding of the scientific process, their communication skills and their ability to work as part of a team. For example, in a similar SSP competition, teams were challenged to design a house with net-zero energy consumption (meaning it produced at least as much energy as it used) and to use a genetic test to determine the probability that two parents would produce a child with sickle cell disease.
With four each, Texas and California will be sending the greatest number of finalists., Ohio and Oregon are each sending three. There have been concerns about a lack of interest among middle-school girls about math and science. But not here. Girls constituted 52 percent of Broadcom MASTERS applicants and 17 out of the finalists.
Students were nominated by their local fair to participate in the MASTERS. Their projects range from the behavioral sciences to physics. Almost 1,500 students in 45 states, Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico completed applications for the program. On Aug. 16, 300 were chosen as semifinalists . Semifinalists as well as their teachers receive prizes from Broadcom Foundation and Elmer’s Products, the official Classroom Partner of the Broadcom MASTERS.
“Broadcom MASTERS provides a unique opportunity for a sixth, seventh, or eighth grader to apply his or her knowledge of math, science, and language to a personal interest,” said Paula Golden, executive director of Broadcom Foundation. “By sustaining middle school interest in these subjects into high school,” she says, Broadcom hopes to help increase the pool of scientists, engineers, and innovators of the future.
“Middle School is an important time in students’ lives, a time when they begin to formulate ideas on career paths to pursue,” said Elizabeth Marincola, president of Society for Science & the Public. “It is important to ensure they have access to science and engineering, not just the facts, but the hands-on experience of learning about the world through scientific experimentation and understanding the engineering process. The Broadcom MASTERS inspires and rewards these important project-based pursuits.”