Out of 1,600 applicants throughout the United States, 300 semifinalists are selected by the Intel Science Talent Search, formerly known as the Westinghouse. The contest is America's oldest and most prestigious pre-college science competition, and often considered the "Junior Nobel Prize."
(L. to r.) Intel Semifinalists Mark Hiller, Roxanne Tingir, Leah Hamburg, Science Research Teacher Phyllis Serfaty. Not pictured: Social Science Teacher John Cahill.
Three Schreiber High School students have achieved this honor: Leah Marion Hamburg, Mark Alexander Hiller and Roxanne Tingir. Students were judged based on their individual research reports on their research ability, scientific originality and creative thinking. The research projects, in general, covered all disciplines of science, including chemistry, physics, mathematics, engineering, social science and biology. All Intel STS entries were reviewed and judged by top scientists from a variety of disciplines. The judging process was overseen by Dr. Andrew Yeager, director of Stem Cell Transplantation at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
Each of the 300 semifinalists, 66 of whom are from Long Island schools, will receive $1,000 in recognition of their scientific achievements. In addition, each of the schools that place a semifinalist in the competition will receive $1,000 per semifinalist to be used in support of the school's science and math education programs.
In addition to the scholarship award, all semifinalists and their teachers are honored with certificates of merit. These students are recommended to select colleges and universities for admission and financial assistance.
The specific research projects of the Schreiber semifinalists were as follows:
Leah Hamburg--- Role of the Prospicardial Organ in Coronary Artery Development.
Mark Hiller---Experiment Designed to Increase Voter Turnout
Roxanne Tingir---Development of an ELISA for Chimeric Monoclonal Antibody 31.1.
One trait these remarkable young researchers have in common is their modesty. They all said, essentially, that they didn't expect to win. Mark Hiller had "no expectations at all." Leah Hamburg said, "It certainly came as a surprise, and Roxanne Tingir said, "I got lucky." All would disagree with them, however.
They also all expressed gratitude to their research teachers, Phyllis Serfaty (science) and John Cahill (social), and, of course, their parents and other mentors along the way.
All three also concur that the student must enjoy the research in and of itself.
Roxanne Tingir reported that she worked four to five days a week in a private laboratory under the tutelage of Dr. Wolf. "The program is so vigorous, and we work so hard, you have to enjoy what you're doing, otherwise it gets to a point when it's not worthwhile."
Interestingly, in the fall when she plans to go to Harvard, Princeton, Georgetown or perhaps even another college, she wants to major in history or English, despite her obvious gift for science. That's one of the reasons why this left and right brained young woman remarked that she liked the Intel Search because it gave her the opportunity to delve into a scientific area she had no idea about at all. "I usually work in the humanities," she noted.
Mark Hiller is also blessed with a left brain/right intellect. He plans to major in political science and minor in physics in the fall, after he makes his final college decision. This entails choosing one among some of the Ivy League schools he's currently contemplating attending.
Like Roxanne, Mark really enjoyed his research. "It was a ton and ton of work," he reported. "If you focus on only the end, with the sole goal of winning the contest, you can't get through it. For me, it was a labor of love."
Mark was careful to point out that the topic of his study, "Experiment to Increase Voter Turnout," was determined well before last November's national election, when voters realized how important their votes actually were. (The results of his "timely" study indicated that voters tended to vote more frequently when they received phone calls, as opposed to mailings, with a factual message rather than a more "emotional, patriotic" one.)
This talented rising star has a modest goal. "I want to be president," he declares. However, while Mark is young in his years, he's old in his wisdom, as he points out, "I want to be president, without becoming a politician in between."
Like Mark, Leah Hamburg's study serves her goal of one day attending medical school. As an undergraduate, she plans to major in biology, and is considering attending Yale, Brown, Cornell and Johns Hopkins, among others, next fall.
With her love of science and the research process, she delighted in her work. "I discovered so many exciting things," said Leah. "I was excited by the nature of the work, and the fact that I was able to get a theory to work that had not been scientifically proven before." (Explaining the theory, Leah reported that she was the first to show the migration of liver cells to a heart tube in culture.)
Her love of science must also come from her dad. He holds a Ph.D. in neurobiology and is an adjunct associate professor at Cornell Medical College. Leah said, "He was a big help in proofreading," and called him a "secondary mentor to Mrs. Serfaty," who was also a "big help." Mrs. Serfaty, in Leah's summation, "Knows what she's talking about when it comes to science research."
Mrs. Serfaty spoke about the enormity of the young scientists accomplishments:
"To complete a publishable scientific research paper as a high school student is a major accomplishment and therefore I am proud of and congratulate all the students who entered Intel. The Intel Science Talent Search is a way of affirming that these students have made a contribution to the body of scientific knowledge. To be chosen as an Intel Science Talent Search semifinalist is special recognition for that accomplishment. Well done!"
Proud "academic" poppa, Schreiber Principal Dr. Sid Barish said, "I am delighted that three Schreiber students were selected as Intel Semifinalists and that we continue to shine in this prestigious competition. Their achievement is a deep source of pride for their teacher, parents, classmates and me. I am truly amazed by the level of research and project designs by this young group of scholars. They are awe-inspiring."
Sharing this proud moment, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Al Inserra added, "I'm delighted with the continued success of our students. It's another feather in the cap for Port Washington."
The semifinalists were chosen from among 1,592 entrants and represent 166 high schools in 36 states and the District of Columbia. Forty-nine percent are female and 51 percent are male.
From this group of 300 semifinalists, 40 finalists will be chosen on Jan. 31. They will attend the Science Talent Institute in Washington, DC from March 7-12, where they will participate in final judging and compete for college scholarships totaling $530,000. The winners will be selected based on rigorous interviews, and announced March 12.
This year, the Science Talent Search celebrates 60 years of recognizing and rewarding America's best young scientists. Over 100 winners of the world's most coveted science and math honors are alumni of the STS, including three National Medal of Science winners, ten MacArthur Foundation Fellows, two Fields Medalists and five Nobel Laureates.
Science Service, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to advance the understanding and appreciation of science through publications and educational programs has administered the program since its inception in 1942. Over the past 60 years, the STS has recognized more than 2,000 finalists with more than $5 million in scholarships.
Intel's sponsorship of the Science Talent Search is part of the Intel Innovation in Education initiatives to prepare today's teachers and students for tomorrow's demands. Intel develops and supports education programs that help meet the needs of students and communities worldwide through improving science, math, engineering and technology in classrooms; and broadening access to technology and technical careers.
Intel, the world's largest chip maker, is also a leading manufacturer of computer, networking and communications productions.