At last week's Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), three SPA student-scientists--Ethan Dincer '19, Melissa Nie '20, and Nitya Thakkar '19--were among the more than 1800 high school students from 80 countries to present their original research and compete for awards in twenty-two disciplinary categories in science and engineering. ISEF is is the world’s largest international pre-college science competition.
All three students developed their original research as part of SPA's Advanced Science Research seminar, and earned a spot at the ISEF finals through their exceptional performances at regional and state science fairs. At ISEF, Melissa Nie's project, "Applying Thermopile Array Sensors and Machine Learning to Detect Falls of Older Adults," was awarded a third-place award in the Biomedical Engineering category. The ISEF judging team includes university faculty and scientists, industrial engineers and scientists, representatives of private and federal research centers and agencies, medical researchers, and post-doctoral fellows. Nie's award carries a prize of $1000 and puts her among the top high school scientists in the world.
Upper School science faculty and department chair Karissa Baker, who accompanied the students to Phoenix, calls ISEF "a once-in-a-lifetime" opportunity. Baker and the three students spent the week in Phoenix, attending symposia on a wide range of scientific topics, learning how to effectively present research to judges and the public, and meeting peers from all over the world. "It's a truly international experience," Baker says. "The students interacted with kids from all over the world who share their interests. It was great to watch them engage with each other's work."
"I met so many talented people at ISEF who shared my passion for science, from the enthusiastic Puerto Rico delegation to the new friends I made on Team Minnesota," says Nie. "Our schedules were very busy throughout the week, but that didn't stop us from making connections with people around the world. Everyone was really friendly and they were clearly passionate about their projects. I'm very grateful for this opportunity and it definitely motivated me to keep pursuing science."
Ethan Dincer '19, Melissa Nie '20, and Nitya Thakkar '19, along with faculty member and Science Department Chair Karissa Baker, traveled to Phoenix, Arizona to take part in ISEF, which is