SSSA NASSER (12), RAM MANNATH (12) and Aishwarya Vinod (13) — joint champions of the 2013 India National Science Competition organised by the Union government, CII and IT-chip manufacturing behemoth Intel Corp to promote STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) education — have returned to Bangalore enriched by their experience of an all-expenses paid trip to the Broadcom Masters International 2014 Middle School Science and Engineering program. The Broadcom Masters is an annual convention conducted by the Irvine (California)-based Broadcom Corp — a big name in the semiconductors industry.
The journey to Irvine was long and arduous for these three middle school STEM enthusiasts who cleared several rigorous regional rounds to qualify for the National Science Competition organised by the Initiative for Research and Innovation in Science (IRIS), sponsored by CII, Intel and Broadcom.
Recalling his prize-winning project with classmate Aishwarya, and class VIII students of Bangalore’s Sishu Griha Montessori and High School, Ram says: “We developed a cost-effective, biodegradable alternative to plastic — wax coating for paper cups. Unlike plastic, starch-coated paper cups decompose easily.”
Likewise, whiz kid Saad (a class VI student of Clarence High School, Bangalore, but currently being home schooled) developed a project using python (a computer programming language) to inter-connect multiple microprocessors. “I successfully linked 64 microprocessors with the assistance of my Intel India mentor Gautam Doshi. My communication network requires very little hardware and allows software control, ensuring optimal power and performance,” he says. Two years ago, Saad completed Stanford University’s online courses on databases and cryptography and is currently enrolled in courses on statistics, circuits and electronics, and computational neurosciences of Udacity, MIT (Massachussets Institute of Technology) and University of Washington. The Indian Space Research Organisation is where he wants to find his space.
On the other hand, Ram and Aishwarya have a common mission to improve the environment. “We want to make planet Earth a healthier and safer place to live in,” says Aishwarya.
DURGAPUR (WEST BENGAL)-BASED Irin Ghosh is the global runner-up of the 11th International Junior Science Olympiad (IJSO) programme, an annual worldwide event of individual and team competitions for school students in the 10-15 age group.
Conducted by Argentina’s ministry of education and National University of Cuyo in Mendoza from December 2-11 last year, the 11th IJSO attracted 150 student participants from 35 countries. Irin was a member of the six-strong Indian team — all of whom bagged gold in their respective categories. Her Delhi-based teammate Kushagra Juneja was crowned world champion.
IJSO requires every participant to write one practical and two theoretical tests and assesses them in the conventional, environmental and forensic sciences. The objective is to kindle student interest in the sciences and afford networking opportunities to delegates among its 50 member countries. India hosted the event in 2013.
The older of two girl children of Tapendra Ghosh, a BSNL employee, and homemaker Shruti, Irin is a class X student of the CBSE-affiliated Hem Sheela Model School, Durgapur. “I am grateful to my school teachers, FIITJEE tutors, and mentors from the Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education (HBCSE) who helped me prepare for IJSO. I am equally thankful to the Union government for paying my travel expenses and the government of Argentina for their excellent hospitality,” she says.
Of the 35 students countrywide who qualified for IJSO, only six were chosen at a selection camp conducted in May 2014 in Mumbai. “After making it to the winning team, we were given rigorous training by HBCSE experts which in my opinion was the decisive factor in our stellar performance in IJSO 2014,” says Irin.
Back home from Argentina with a treasure trove of memories, Irin is studying for her class X board exam while simultaneously preparing for the forthcoming senior Olympiad scheduled to be held in July this year. And all of 15, she wants to pursue a career in science and contribute to society.
Baishali Mukherjee (Kolkata)