"whiz kid" competition at UC Berkeley offers opportunity for
200 local high school students to see what scientific research
is all about
Robert Sanders, Media Relations
- Twelve "whiz kid" high school students from the West, including
a teenager from Mill Valley, will come to the University of
California, Berkeley, on Nov. 10 and 11 to compete in the
national Siemens Westinghouse Science & Technology Competition.
They'll also serve as models for some 200 local high school
students invited to join the fun.
local students, from high schools in San Jose, Hayward, San
Leandro, Oakland, Berkeley, El Cerrito and Richmond, will
sit in on the competition on Saturday, Nov. 11, be treated
to a chemistry demonstration in the afternoon, and tour science
labs ranging from the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology to the
Electronics Research Laboratory.
are students who are very interested in science, and we want
to show them that the Siemens competitors are high school
students just like them," said Caroline Kane, adjunct professor
of molecular and cell biology and chair of the campus's Coalition
for Excellence and Diversity in Math, Science and Engineering.
are the group the coalition wants to encourage to go on to
college, so that we can help to increase the diversity of
students who will become professionals in math, science and
the local students look on, the 12 Siemens competitors will
be sweating over oral presentations to the judges, more like
college students defending a thesis than high school science
"These high school students represent the best product of
our nation's schools, and the kind of student we all hope
to attract as undergraduates. We're amazed by their creativity
and precocious dedication to science," said UC Berkeley Chancellor
Robert M. Berdahl. "The Berkeley campus is pleased to host
the science competition and to be part of this national effort
to show young people from all backgrounds how exciting and
valuable a career in science can be."
campus's coalition, which is sponsoring the local high school
students and coordinating the competition, is a highly successful
program to boost the success of women and minorities in science,
math and engineering - fields in which they historically have
been underrepresented. President Clinton awarded the coalition
a 1998 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics
and Engineering Mentoring.
the Siemens Foundation invited UC Berkeley to host the Western
regionals, the coalition made sure the campus's outreach activities
were included in the event.
competition, in its second year, is a national million-dollar
scholarship and awards program developed by the Siemens Foundation
to promote and advance math and science education in America.
It is open to individuals and teams of high school students
who develop independent research projects in the physical
or biological sciences, or in mathematics.
This year, 30 individual finalists and 18 team finalists were
selected from high schools across the nation. In order to
distribute the teams evenly among the six regional competitions,
some teams will be participating outside their regions. For
example, an Alabama team is competing at UC Berkeley in the
The Western region's five individual finalists and three team
finalists (one three-person and two two-person teams) already
have submitted written reports on their research projects
to five judges, all UC Berkeley faculty members. Among the
five individual finalists are Andrew Main of Mill Valley and
Hans Lee of Carmel.
projects are an interesting mix," said lead judge Roger Falcone,
a professor of physics. "Whereas last year the projects were
dominated by biology, this year we have projects on antilock
brakes, earthquake modeling, combustion studies, number theory,
chaos in planetary orbits and land erosion, in addition to
several biological projects."
their arrival on Friday, the competitors will set up poster
displays about their research in the Dieterich and Bentley
Rooms on the first-floor of Bechtel Hall. From 5-6 p.m. on
Friday, the posters will be on display for the public. On
Saturday, from 8:30 to 11 a.m. and again from 1:30 to 4 p.m.,
the competitors will deliver short presentations before the
judges in Bechtel Hall's Sibley Auditorium, then answer questions
about their research.
"whiz kid" finalists will be judged on the contributions their
research makes to a particular field of science, how comprehensive
the work is, how well the students understand the field they
have chosen to investigate, and their clarity of communication,
winners of the individual and team competitions at UC Berkeley
will go on to Washington, D.C., for the final national competition
Dec. 9-11. Other regional competitions will be hosted by the
University of Notre Dame, Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of Texas at
Austin and Carnegie Mellon University.
individual regional winner will receive an award of $3,000
and members of the winning regional team will share a prize
of $3,000. All of the scholarship money will be applied toward
the winning students' undergraduate or graduate education.
Western States regional winners will advance to compete at
the national level for a top individual scholarship prize
of $100,000. Separately, members of the top national team
will share a $100,000 scholarship. Six individual and six
team runners-up on the national level each will be awarded
$20,000 scholarships, to be divided equally among team members.
The 200 high school students on hand Saturday also will have
a full day. After a continental breakfast and a welcome from
Roberto Rivera of UC Berkeley's admissions office, teams of
local students will participate in a family feud-type competition
testing what they know about science. The competition is between
10 and 11 a.m. in the McCallum Room of Tan Hall.
the remainder of the day, the students will sit in on the
oral presentations by Siemens finalists and tour science labs
Western States finalists and their respective categories of
Hans Lee, York School, Monterey, Calif. (engineering, individual)
Andrew Main, San Francisco University High School, San Francisco,
Calif. (computer science, individual)
Paul Nugent, Fairfield High School, Fairfield, Mont. (environmental
Kenneth Walden, Inglemoor High School, Kenmore, Wash. (mathematics,
Kenneth Watanabe, Alhambra High School, Alhambra, Calif. (biology,
April Adams, Vista High School, Oceanside, Calif. (biology,
* Corinne Dohima, San Dieguito Academy, Encinitas, Calif.
(biology, Adams team)
Frank Huang, Lamp Magnet High School, Montgomery, Ala. (physics,
Peter Chung, Lamp Magnet High School, Montgomery, Ala. (physics,
Rachel Wyatt, Lamp Magnet High School, Montgomery, Ala. (physics,
Andrew Coughlin, Laramie High School, Laramie, Wyo. (engineering,
Virginia Eakin, Laramie High School, Laramie, Wyo. (engineering,
Siemens Foundation was established in 1998 to promote and
support educational activities. As part of its mission, the
foundation recognizes and supports America's most promising
math and science students and teachers, as well as schools
that are doing the most to promote education in the hard sciences.
Siemens Foundation web site can be found at www.siemens-foundation.org.