This week I am in Washington DC with forty of our nations most promising young innovators – all finalists at this year’s Intel Science Talent Search (Intel STS). It is an extraordinary experience to listen to these high school seniors explain their projects, which can very well qualify for a Masters or PhD thesis, with so much passion and confidence. Identifying potential new treatment for multi drug resistant cancer, advancing the field of stem cell biology and immunology, highly advanced fundamental research in mathematics – these are just some of the projects submitted this year. The students’ capabilities and interests however go well beyond just math and science – more than two thirds of the finalists are accomplished musicians, most are actively engaged in volunteering and mentoring, some of them are highly athletic, some are editors of their high school news papers or magazine – these are not just future innovators, they are the future leaders.
Intel STS finalists go through a rigorous judging process as part of the competition but their week is also filled with a series of exciting events. Students meet leading scientists and visit places of historic and political importance. They display their prize-winning exhibits at the prestigious National Academy of Sciences, where they describe their research to thousands of visitors. One of the highlights of this week was the finalists’ white house visit to meet with President Obama. There was quite an excitement building up within the group as we boarded the bus for the White House, and it only grew as we lined up on the steps of the North Portico and waited for the president.Upon arrival, the president congratulated the students on their extraordinary work and talked to them about the importance of sound education. He also pointed out the need to provide quality education to ALL kids and to get more of them interested in science and math. The visit lasted for about 15 minutes and on the way back I thought about how this experience might affect the lives of these young scientists. Today, during an elegant evening gala, we will find out the top winners for this year, but no matter who wins the competition, I am certain that we will hear from all of these students for many years to come as they continue with their breakthrough research.
Intel Science Talent Search is America’s oldest and most prestigious pre-college science competition. You can find out more about Intel STS and Intel’s larger portfolio of programs aimed at advancing education around the world at: www.intel.com/education
*White House photo by Chuck Kennedy