For lists of all the Intel ISEF winners,
Top winners of Intel ISEF 2011 are
(left to right) Matthew Feddersen, Blake
Marggraff, Taylor Wilson, Tanpitcha
Pongtheerawan and Arada Sungkanit.
Youthful ingenuity rewarded with
more than $4 million at Intel ISEF
Students’ projects range from killing cancer to nuclear security
secondary radiation that killed more
cells than X-rays alone would. In tests,
the tin didn’t seem to have any toxic
effects. “It’s like a chemotherapy drug
without the side effects,” Marggraff says.
Phongchaipaiboon, 17, of Meung district;
and Arada Sungkanit, 17, also of Meung
district will split the award. The three
students wondered whether a gelatinous
product that the fish scales produce might
be useful. After many experiments, the
three hit upon a formula that produced
firm, moldable plastic from the scale
gelatin. The plastic completely degrades
in about 28 days in soil and causes no ill
effects on critters there, the team found.
So far, the plastic isn’t able to hold hot
water or go in the microwave, so the team
is tweaking the recipe.
The technique could easily be implemented with existing technologies such
as the X-ray machines found in dental
offices, say Feddersen and
Marggraff, both of whom
have had family members
with cancer. What’s more,
the treatment would cost
about 60 cents per patient,
so the technique would offer
an affordable way to combat
The other award went to Andrew Kim,
18, of Athens, Ga. Kim explored why
some fruit flies are extreme fighters. The
more social experiences a male fly has
had, the less likely the fly is to be aggressive, Kim found. A gene called cyp6a20
also seems to influence aggression.
“It’s like a
Next year, Marggraff plans to attend
Another recipient of Intel’s Young Sci-
entist A ward — and $50,000 — is Taylor
Washington University in St. Louis, and
Feddersen plans to go to the University
of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
The two top winners were stunned to
hear their names called. “It’s amazing.
I don’t know how to describe it,” says
Feddersen. “We were disappointed when
we didn’t get fourth, so hearing this was
One Herschbach award went to South
Korean students Jinyoung Seo, 18, of Go-
Yang City and Dongju Shin, 18, of Seoul for
a material that mimics spider silk. They
are building water-harvesting devices
with the silk analog to collect usable water
in places with fog but little rain.
Three students from Thailand won
Intel’s Young Scientist Award, which
comes with $50,000, for designing a new
type of plastic out of fish scales. Pornwasu
Pongtheerawan, 16, of Muang; Tanpitcha
By Laura Sanders
LOS ANGELES — Cancer-killing radiation, nuclear threat detection and a fishy
new plastic were behind the projects that
took top awards at the 2011 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.
All together, hundreds of students took
home over $4 million in prizes following
the May 13 awards ceremony.
The weeklong science competition,
a program of Society for Science & the
Public, drew over 1,500 student finalists
from around the world.
“Your innovation will help our global
community transition to sustainable
energy sources, mitigate the impact of
natural disasters and lead to new ways of
preventing and treating addictions and
disease,” Society for Science & the Public president and Science News publisher
Elizabeth Marincola told the finalists.
The top prize of $75,000, the Gordon
E. Moore Award (named for the Intel
Corp. cofounder and inventor of Moore’s
Law), went to two California high school
seniors who invented a way to fry cancer cells. Matthew Feddersen, 17, and
Blake Marggraff, 18, of Lafayette, Calif.,
injected tiny particles of tin into a glob of
yeast cells designed to simulate a tumor.
When hit with X-rays, the tin produced