I had the pleasure of escorting three of the Intel Science Talent Search finalists to Capitol Hill last month. It was an honor to get to know these magnificent students, and to learn about their amazing projects. Elizabeth Coquillette (Cleveland Heights, Ohio), Caitlin Mann (Rocky River, Ohio) and Tong Zhan (Mason, Ohio) joined the ranks of other past finalists, including even some former Nobel Prize winners that have made major scientific breakthroughs through out the years. I was in awe of their ideas, research, and hard work.Thinking back to high school days, I believe most of us can honestly say that we weren’t working on a bio-sensor to detect musculo-skeletal damage, nor were we building a search-and-rescue robot……and we certainly weren’t investigating the Rainbow Ramsey Theory. Amazingly, this is what Caitlin, Elizabeth and Tong have been working on this past year. We started off our “shock and awe” tour by visiting Senator Voinovich, who was fascinated by these young students. “It was truly a privilege to meet with the Intel Science Talent Search finalists in my Washington, D.C. office last month. I am convinced that a world-class education is the best way to help every citizen make the most of his or her God-given talents, and these finalists are the cream of the crop. They have recognized the value of a math and science education, and I congratulate each of them on what they have accomplished. As leaders, I hope they will serve as mentors to their friends and siblings as they seek their own path to success.” Next stop was Congresswoman Schmidt. She was inspired by their passion and completely astonished by their accomplishments. “It was truly a pleasure to meet and spend time with the Intel Science Talent finalists. Spending time with these bright science stars of tomorrow was a memorable experience, one that reminds me how impressive our next generation truly is. I am especially proud that my congressional district was represented by a student from the Mason School District. Math and science is the foundation upon which our economic prosperity will be built for generations to come. Knowing that we have such high caliber scholars there to lead us in science and technology is truly comforting. I wish all of the participants in the 2009 Intel Science Talent competition well, and urge you to continue in your intellectual pursuits.” Last stop was Congressman Kucinich. “I offer my congratulations to all the participants of the Intel Science Talent Search! As a supporter of increased education funding for people of all ages, I am continually impressed with the hard work, focus and ingenuity put forth by our next generation of leaders. I also offer congratulations to the families and schools of the STS participants. Thanks to your compassion and attention, these young people are already addressing the problems of tomorrow. It was a great day in DC and I was honored to be a part of it. After spending some time with this inspiring trio, I was impressed that they were more interested in learning from each other, instead of being recognized for their own knowledge. Maybe something for the rest of us to ponder?
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