Is this some kind of new code to crack? No, these are just a few of the acronyms that come to mind as I return from the Intel Science Talent Search (STS) held in Washington D.C. Tuesday night.

A $100,000 scholarship awaited the winner of America’s oldest and most prestigious pre-college science competition. The Intel Science Talent Search (Intel STS), a program of the Society for Science and the Public (SSP).

Intel STS provides an opportunity for U.S. high school seniors to complete an original research project and have it judged by highly regarded professional scientists. This past year, more than 1,600 high school seniors competed and were judged for their individual research ability, scientific originality, and creative thinking.

I was in the audience Tuesday night, awed again by the brain power of these high school students. However, what has become clearer each year is that these students are not only performing research – they are solving social challenges and building the framework for unique social entrepreneurship (SE) solutions.

Just take a look at some of the finalists’ projects – The impacts of public and private funding for libraries, Detecting and fighting cancer in novel and cost effective ways, Using technology to optimize prosthetic devices, The interconnections of taste and obesity, Bioremediation and Electricity production in microbial fuel cells, Water quality impacts from nuclear reactors, and many many more.

These kids are beyond book smart – they’re “world” smart. In addition to IQ’s off the charts and 4 out of 40 finalists with perfect SAT scores, they are poised to solve some of the world’s greatest social challenges.

Each year, Intel awards more than $1.25 million to students and schools during the Intel STS competition. Each of the top 300 2007 semifinalists received $1,000, as did their schools. Of these, 40 were chosen as finalists. The 40 finalists traveled to Washington, D.C., for a week, where they competed for scholarships ranging from $20,000 to $100,000.

I’ve always considered this an inspiring science competition. It inspires me and I hope it inspires other children like my own. What I’ve come to appreciate even more in recent years is how important it is as core CSR and Sustainability strategy for Intel and the future of our country.

Congratulations to all 40 finalists. Learn a lot more about all the finalists and their projects here.

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