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Jan. 28, 2013

Intel Science Talent Search names Blair finalist and semifinalists

by Temi Ibirogba, Online Managing Editor
On Jan. 9, the Society for Science and the Public announced 300 semifinalists in the Intel Science Talent Search, an annual competition seeking the best research done by high school seniors across the country. Blair seniors Richard Chen, Sharon Chen, Diwakaran Ilangovan, Jinhie Skarda, and Samuel Zbarsky, combined, won $5,000 for the Blair magnet program. They each also received a $1,000 award for their research. On Jan. 22, Zbarsky was subsequently named one of the 40 finalists in the competition.

The Intel Science Talent Search competition has been held since 1942. Courtesy of Intel
The Intel Science Talent Search competition has been held since 1942.
The participants of the 2013 Intel Competition wrote a research paper based on the work they completed this past summer in science based facilities. Only 40 finalists will present their research to the judges, and the top ten are then selected for scholarships, with the top winner receiving a $100,000 award.

The entrants of the competition were judged not only on their research paper but also on their grades, SAT scores, teacher recommendations, interests and answers to essay questions that measured their scientific potential. "Pretty much, the competition is a lot like a college application," Skarda said.

Skarda completed an eight-week research internship at the Naval Research Laboratory in D.C. where she studied electromagnetic radiation from Jupiter with a new radio telescope. "I submitted a paper describing this research, ['Analysis of Jovian Decametric Emission using the Long Wavelength Array Station 1'], to the competition," Skarda said.

Read More: Skarda, seniors announced as Siemens semifinalists

Ilangovan also completed his work this past summer. "I spent almost every weekday during summer in the lab from nine to four, although I did spend some of that time taking lunch breaks to go play basketball," Ilangovan said. "Most of the first month was spent learning theory, and the rest of the time was for data collection and analysis."

His research was titled, "The Perception of Vertical Visual Perturbation While Walking," and he looked at the effects of making a person's visual surrounds move up and down while they walk on a treadmill in a virtual reality setting. "Basically, we don't really understand walking very well -- it's something we learn to do at a young age but don't have a very good scientific grasp of," he said.

Zbarsky, the only Blair finalist out of the five semifinalists, conducted a project on graph theory, titled: "On Improved Bounds for Bounded Degree Spanning Trees for Points in Arbitrary Dimension." Currently, Zbarsky is preparing his poster board for the upcoming event in March.

Although Ilangovan still is not sure if he wants to pursue a science-based career in the future, he believes the Intel experience will benefit him greatly. "Well I'm not sure if I'm going to go into this specific field in the future, but this, at least, gave me my first taste of real scientific research," Ilangovan said.

Skarda agreed that she appreciated her research experience. "It was very exciting to analyze some of the first data ever taken with a newly completed radio telescope, and I'm very pleased with the contributions I was able to make to the project," Skarda said.

Editor's Note: Richard Chen is the Entertainment Editor for Silver Chips Online.



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