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wins top prize for
Awards announced for first
Broadcom MASTERS contest
By Devin Powell
A typical 14-year-old goes to the beach to
play in the waves. But Daniel Feeny went
to a beach near Pescadero, Calif., to study
them. Using a homemade rig of springs
and balls, he showed that the force of the
waves close to shore doesn’t dictate the
diversity of marine life.
“I discovered that nature doesn’t work
that way; it’s not that simple,” says Feeny,
now 15, who ran his experiment as an
eighth-grader at Woodside Elementary
School. “Many variables ... can affect
diversity, like the terrain and drying out.”
For his own research and his performance in team-based contests, Feeny
won first place in the inaugural
Broadcom Math, Applied Science,
Technology and Engineering for Rising
Stars, or MASTERS, program. Winners
and finalists in this national competition
for sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders
were honored October 4 at a gala at the
Carnegie Institution for Science in
“It’s all about getting more kids to touch
science and to have a hands-on experience with science,” says Scott McGregor,
chief executive officer of Broadcom Corp.
and president of the Broadcom Foundation, which sponsors the competition.
Feeny’s prize, a $25,000 education award,
was funded by the Samueli Foundation, a
private nonprofit organization based in
Corona del Mar, Calif., begun by Broadcom’s cofounder Henry Samueli.
In its first year, the competition
received 1,476 entries from students in
45 states, Puerto Rico and Washington.
Each student had been nominated by a
local science fair affiliated with Society
Daniel Feeny (center), shown with SSP’s Elizabeth Marincola (left) and Broadcom
CEO Scott McGregor, earned first place in the Broadcom MASTERS competition.
for Science & the Public, the nonprofit
organization that administers the Broadcom MASTERS program and publishes
Science News. Thirty finalists came to
Washington to present their research
projects and compete in contests testing
aptitude in science, technology, engineering and math.
“We want to reinforce a scientific
mind-set in students whether or not they
end up going into science,” says Elizabeth
Marincola, president of SSP and publisher of Science News.
The team of scientists and engineers
that judged the students awarded second
place and $10,000 to Benjamin Hylak, 14,
of West Grove, Penn. Inspired by a visit
to his grandmother in a nursing home, he
built and programmed a robot that can be
operated remotely over the Internet for
people who live far from their relatives.
“We’ve all run out of time in our culture, and I was seeing a lot of people staring at walls,” says Hylak, who made the
robot out of a Roomba robotic vacuum,
a trash can and a total of $500 in parts.
Third place and a $5,000 award went
to I-Chun Lin, 14, of Plano, Texas, who
tested new ways to improve the efficiency of solar cells using natural dyes
from raspberries and blackberries.
Other finalists earned a com-
bined $20,000 in prizes in individual
disciplines. Samantha Rowland, 14, of
Tipp City, Ohio, tested whether some
colors of decorative lights cause more
Christmas tree needles to fall off than
other colors, earning the award in the
Science category. Robert Heckman,
a 14-year-old snorkeler from Kailua,
Hawaii, won in Technology for investi-
gating why tumors form on corals. For
her tests of whether rising salt concen-
trations have an impact on mud snails,
Katherine Landoni, 14, of Sequim,
Wash., placed first in Engineering.
The Math award recipient, 14-year-old
Crystal Poole of San Diego, drew on
her experience frosting cakes with her
grandmother to show that adding corn-
starch helps prevent icing from melting.