Three Local Middle School Students Receive National Recognition for STEM Projects in the Broadcom Science MASTERS program.
By Dylan Roche
Where do renowned world-changers get their start? For those youth who will one day pursue careers in fields of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), their school science fairs are often the first places they have the opportunity to understand what it means to research, hypothesize, experiment, and ultimately conclude new understandings of the world around them.
And in the case of three local middle school students, their science projects were impressive enough to earn them standing with the Broadcom Foundation and Society for Science & the Public. Stig Lundin of Crofton Middle School, Annemarie Hartman of Old Middle Middle North School, and Ryan Kirkendall of Severna Park Middle School were selected from a pool of 3,476 students from 42 states and Puerto Rico, earning themselves spots among the Top 300 Broadcom MASTERS.
“The Broadcom MASTERS STEM competition is unique,” explains Maya Ajmera, CEO of Society for Science & the Public. These three young people “are among the top 300 young scientists and engineers in the United States based on the projects they submitted.”
While previous years have seen students moving on from their school science fairs to regional competitions before entering the national level, the coronavirus pandemic meant that many events had to be canceled; therefore, the Society for Science & the Public welcomed any student who registered to compete in a Society-affiliated science fair to apply.
What did each of these three local youth explore with their projects?
Lundin’s project, “To Tape or Not to Tape,” explored whether applying tape to a hockey blade affected the speed and accuracy of a shot in the game. By testing each of the various ways of taping used by hockey players, Lundin found that shooting with full tape decreased speed while using the half tape tactic had the most hits.
Hartman’s project, “Am I Protected,” explored how fabric types exposed to UV rays affect the amount of ultraviolet radiation that reaches the skin underneath. After testing nine types of fabric and looking at the light intensity in watts per meter that went through each of them, she concluded that White Gabardine Sportswear was the least protective against the sun while denim was the best.
Kirkendall’s project, “Creating a Babysitter,” explored different technologies that could independently water a plant. By tapping into the use of artificial intelligence, Kirkendall sought to help farmers or people at home take better care of their plants.
Ajmera notes that projects such as the ones students undertake for science fairs help students apply classroom knowledge to practical purposes—a big part of modern education. “There’s a lot more emphasis in project-based learning,” she says. “The best way for students to learn is to take a problem they care about and then using interdisciplinary thinking and learning to do problem solving around that problem.”
This is great because getting kids into this mindset at a young age isn’t just about helping their own development. More importantly, it means a more vibrant future made possible by future generations of scientists, of which Lundin, Hartman, and Kirkendall will very likely be a part. “We are really excited to witness where they go in the world,” Ajmera concluded. “What problem are they going to solve when they grow up?”