Area students depart for international science fair in Phoenix

May 12, 2019

Seven area students who have qualified for the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Phoenix will be recognized Sunday, May 12 at a send-off at 8:30 a.m. at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. Austin Council Member Jimmy Flannigan, Austin Energy Vice President for Customer Energy Solutions and Corporate Communications Debbie Kimberly, and Austin Science Education Foundation Executive Director Ingrid Weigand will wish the students, who won science festival competitions at the local and state level and are now moving on to the International competition, well before their plane takes off.

WHAT: Student send-off to Intel International Science & Engineering Fair

WHEN: Sunday, May 12 at 8:30 a.m.

WHERE: Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, Lower Level, Baggage Carousel #3, next to the Barbara Jordan statue

VISUALS: Students giving long-stemmed (as in STEM education) flowers to their moms

About Intel ISEF
The Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF) is the world’s largest international pre-college science competition. Founded in 1950 as the National Science Fair for high school winners of local and regional science fairs, ISEF is now the gathering place for young scientists from over 75 foreign countries and territories.

The Austin Science Education Foundation is 501(c)(3) organization that supports the Austin Energy Regional Science Festival by recruiting judges and volunteers, raising funds and assisting with the overall management of the fair.

The Austin Energy Regional Science Festival (AERSF) is affiliated with Intel ISEF and abides by its rules and regulations, which ensure that all projects are done safely and ethically and that the experiment can be reproduced, i.e. results verified; this prepares students who chose a science major and later a career in science, for work in university labs and research facilities which all follow the same guidelines.

Each affiliated regional, state and national fair can select Best of Fair projects that advance to the international competition. Projects can be done by an individual student or by a team with up to three members and are selected from the first place winners in all science categories.

This year, Austin area judges chose five individual projects and one team project from five different Central Texas school districts and one charter school to advance to Intel ISEF. The students’ projects are in Animal Sciences, Biochemistry, Biomedical & Health Sciences, Earth & Environmental Sciences, Energy and Physics & Astronomy. Additionally, one more student from the Austin Energy Regional Science Festival, in the category of Plant Sciences, was selected at the Texas State Science and Engineering Fair as an Intel ISEF Finalist and will be traveling with the Austin group. Students will be accompanied by a teacher from their school. They will meet peers from around the world, have a chance to explain their projects to subject matter experts in their fields and listen to a panel discussion by Nobel Laureates. Having participated in Intel ISEF will enhance their college applications, even if they do not win any awards. Throughout the week, their achievements will be celebrated and they will be encouraged to pursue their interest in science, math and engineering.

About the students and their projects

Student: Sindhuja Uppuluri, Round Rock ISD’s Westwood High School (returning to ISEF for the second year in a row)
Summary: Sindhuja tested Milk Thistle and Indian Snake Root (two commonly available herbs) on roundworms to better understand their role in a potential treatment for Alzheimer’s. Positive results showed she may be on the right path.

Student: Michelle Lee, Round Rock ISD’s Westwood High School
Summary: Michelle did a biochemistry study involving a protein found in cells which is mutated (malfunctioning) in many forms of cancer. Her study identified chemical bonds and processes which may play an important role in cancer research.

Student: Bridget Li, Leander ISD’s Vandegrift High School
Summary: Bridget studied nano-particles as a delivery mechanism to make NAC (cheap over the counter anti-inflammatory supplement), more effective. NAC by itself is not readily absorbed or used by the body easily.

Student: Jack Delli-Santi, Lake Travis ISD’s Lake Travis High School
Summary: Jack tested a commonly available food additive which is used as a thickening agent on the invasive Zebra Muscle. Zebra Muscles must siphon and filter large quantities of water to survive, Jack’s clever idea was to stop up their siphons with a food thickening agent. This may lead to a future treatment that can safely bring the invasive species under control.

Students: Ayla Saeed, Nora Boumaraf, Austin Peace Academy (Private)
Summary: Ayla and Nora developed a fuel cell that uses carbon nano fibers instead of metal electrodes. This could help in the creation of more lightweight and efficient fuel cells.

Student: Emily Crawley, Brenham ISD’s Brenham High School
Summary: Emily did a study on tomato plant growth in simulated Martian soil and conditions that compared different fertilizing techniques. The study provides insight to the possibility of growing crops on Mars.

Student: Camille Chiu, College Station ISD’s College Station High School (She will be leaving from College Station, not ABIA)
Summary: Camille, using radio telescope and satellite data, did some calculations on the Milky Way galaxy rotation. Her findings support a previous theory that there may not be as much dark matter in the Milky Way as scientists previously predicted.

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