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STEM Girls Win Big at the Broadcom MASTERS Competition

The Broadcom MASTERS competition is America’s premier science and engineering competition for middle school students. And this year, for the first time, girls were honored with all five top awards.

This competition is a hefty undertaking. First, 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students must bring their projects to state or regional science fairs affiliated with the Society for Science & the Public. Judges at each local fair nominate the top 10%, and those students can then apply to join the national competition.

This year, 2,348 students applied from 47 states. From that pool, just 30 finalists were chosen––18 girls and 12 boys. The Broadcom MASTERS competition calls for demonstration not only of STEM achievement, but also 21st century skills in critical thinking, creativity, and teamwork. Hands-on challenges have ranged from collaborating on code design to build a program, to coming up with a medical pack that can hold a three-month supply of medicine.

A panel of distinguished scientists, engineers, and educators selected this year’s five winners. This article includes one-minute videos of each remarkable girl as she speaks in detail on her award-winning project.

Hats off to these incredible STEM girls

 And the winners are…

 Alaina Gassler, 14, West Grove, Pennsylvania, won the $25,000 Samueli Foundation Prize, for her project to reduce blind spots in cars. She designed a webcam system to show a broad panorama of anything that might block the driver’s line of sight.

Rachel Bergey, 14, Harleysville, Pennsylvania, won the $10,000 Lemelson Award for Invention. Rachel developed a trap made of tinfoil and netting to subdue the Spotted Lanternfly, an insect that damages trees in Pennsylvania.

Sidor Clare, 14, Sandy, Utah, won the $10,000 Marconi/Samueli Award for Innovation. Sidor developed a way to make bricks on Mars, using its soil. Astronauts would then not have to bring building materials with them in order to build there.

Alexis MacAvoy, 14, Hillsborough, California, won the $10,000 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Award for Health Advancement. Alexis designed a low-cost, eco-friendly water filter that uses activated carbon to remove heavy metals from water.

Lauren Ejiaga, 14, New Orleans, Louisiana, won the $10,000 STEM Talent Award, sponsored by DoD. Her research explores how current levels of ultraviolet sunlight, reaching the earth due to ozone depletion, impact plant growth.

Maya Ajmera, President and CEO of the Society for Science & the Public, and Publisher of Science News, says, “With so many challenges in our world, Alaina and her fellow Broadcom MASTERS finalists make me optimistic. I am proud to lead an organization that is inspiring so many young people, especially girls, to continue to innovate.”

Broadcom Foundation

Broadcom technology undergirds inventions we use and depend on every day, including smartphones, wireless networks, and streaming music or movies. Broadcom MASTERS––which stands for Math, Applied Science, Technology, and Engineering for Rising Stars––is a Society for Science & the Public program that encourages middle school students to follow their personal passions for inspired college and career pathways in STEM. Find our more here. 

Broadcom MASTERS will give $1,000 to the school of each of the 30 finalists, to benefit their science program.

Society for Science & The Public

Founded in 1921, the Society is “a champion for science, dedicated to expanding scientific literacy, effective STEM education, and scientific research. We are a nonprofit membership organization focused on promoting understanding and appreciation of science and the vital role it plays in human advancement.” Learn more here about their research conferences for middle school and high school teachers, as well as grant programs, competitions, and science journalism for students.

Do you know a dedicated science student who’d like to bring their amazing project to a science fair? Competitions take place every year all over the country. Visit here to find a Broadcom MASTERS fair near you.

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