Interviews with the winners

Ken posted two awesome videos on Channel Intel before he set off on a much deserved vacation after all his hard work on this year’s competition. My first thought after taking a look at these videos was “wow, my wasted youth.” Even the titles of these projects are impressive (and on par with a few master thesis titles i’ve seen)! My second thought was although these students are unarguable way smarter then me they totally explain their concepts and research in a way that I can follow (okay, minus some of the words that i had to wikipedia).

Check out Sana Raoff explaining her project and making knot theory, well, not seem so tangled and totally applicable to biochemistry.

Natalie Saranga Omattage talks about her project and how her new detection methods for discovering food additive contaimenets. Warning this is pretty heavy chemistry and it’s going to rock your brain! You are going to feel so much smarter just by listening to this upcoming scientist. And best of all the application is really straight forward – making sure foods that leave distribution centers for our consumption are safe for us, our families, and our pets.

Hope you enjoy!
Beth Lubov Butrymowicz


Intel ISEF 2008 Winners Announced

Congratulations to the winners of this year’s Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.  

ISEF08 Winners

Sana Raoof, Yi-Han Su, and Natalie Saranga Omattage, three brilliant young women from the US and China, were named top winner’s earlier today.  What did Intel’s Chairman Craig Barrett have to say about the competition and the winners?  In my words, this competition is inspiring and the bright young minds we meets each year are truely amazing…they are tomorrow’s innovators and it’s inspiring to meet them today and encourage them along the way.  In Craig’s exact words…

“To see young students from around the world develop innovative solutions to problems confronting society shows the true power of this international science fair. Sana, Natalie and Yi-Han demonstrate that dedication to science inquiry can transcend boundaries and show what we can accomplish when we focus on education and science.”
 – Intel’s Chairman Craig Barrett

So what did these bright young scientists work on?
Natalie Saranga Omattage of Cleveland MS, USA for the development of a more efficient and less expensive way to screen for potentially harmful food additive contaminants. 

Sana Raoof of Muttontown NY, USA for new insights that provide a better understanding of mathematical knot theory and how it can help resolve classic biochemical problems, such as classify molecules on a structural basis.

Yi-Han Su of Taipai, China for identifying a high-activity catalyst that could improve methanol reforming reactions in order to generate hydrogen more efficiently. 

But these three young scientist weren’t the only students to take home honors and big scholarships. More than 500 other participants received scholarships and prizes for their groundbreaking work including 18 “Best of Category” winners. Read about all the winners here 

Science Videos and Stories from Bloggers at ISEF 2008

Here is a collection of great blog posts from the event this week:

Jozef Winter of EcoGeek share project profiles:

“Brazilians turn Batteries into Pigments!”

“Florida Teen Measures Pollution with Glowing Bacteria”

“High Schoolers Reduce 2-Stroke Emissions by 40%!”

Ken Denmead of GeekDad posts four profiles

“Intel ISEF2008: Bionic Arm”

“Intel ISEF2008: Newural Net Data Glove”

“Intel ISEF2008: Tansparent Encryption”

“Intel ISEF 2008: Personal Automated Fermenter/Distiller”

“Intel Science Fair Brings Smart Kids Together From All Over”

Science Woman on the awards ceremony, more to come

ISEF 2008: Special awards and scenes from around the fair”

Green, Power Nature, Recycling Topics of Exploration at Intel ISEF 2008

I saw many, many research projects aimed at improving/lessening human impact on the environment. Energy efficiency, recycling, purifying….

Here a few examples:

Juan Ybarra, USA — Algae Bio Incinerator: A Solution to Global Warming in Your Own Backyard

The purpose of this science project was to help reduce the amount of carbon dioxide released into the air. A large percent of the world’s carbon dioxide is released into the air caused by the burning of trash. With this project, burning trash can happen with the excess of the deadly toxins, such as carbon dioxide, being released into the atmosphere. The procedure of the project was to build an airtight container that the trash can be burned in. Next is to build an airtight container where the smoke can be held in. The two containers will be connected with a hose. A pump will be inserted inside of the smoke container which will pump the smoke into the algae then diluted. After a period of time the algae will under go photosynthesis and convert the carbon dioxide into carbon for its own consumption and oxygen which will be given out into the environment. At the end of the experiment the data was collected by probes using the TI-84 calculators. The data showed that the carbon dioxide was decreased by 81% and there was an increase in oxygen of 45%. However different variables are still being tested and will be shown on the board. The conclusion for the project is that the engineering goal was met and this algae bio incinerator can be used to burn trash and work very effectively and easily .Anybody can use this machine and it is inexpensive and highly effective.

Sean Daly, South Africa — Re-use of Tires

Rubber is widely used in today’s world. Its uses include: piping, mats, conveyor belts etc. Its largest use is for tires. About 50% of all rubber produced is for tires. Rubber is a serious problem because: people burn tires and hazardous gases are released into the atmosphere. Large piles of tires become breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Recycling and disposal of tires is a major problem. Cost-effective housing is also high priority in South Africa. We decided that old tires could be re-used for cheap, effective roof tiles and mulch, thus helping to reduce the effects of both of the above-mentioned problems. Research was done on how tires are currently being re-used. We decided to develop designs for roof tiles. The process included: roof tile shape, positioning of the tiles and the angle of the roof. Fire preventive solutions were tested and then the affect of these retardants on the strength of the tires and how they insulated the roof was analyzed. A viable way to commercialize the product was also found. Fire retardants helped to prevent the burning of the tiles and did have an effect on the strength of the rubber. The fire retardant that prevented the burning process the best also increased the rubber’s strength. The rubber mulch proved to be even more effective in retaining water in the soil than other well-known mulches. Tires can be used to the benefit of the community. This will alleviate the problems of excess old tires and low cost housing.

Fadime Erdogan, Turkey — Filtration of Oil Which Spilled in to the Sea After a Tanker Accident from the Sea Water

‘Filtration of oil which spilled in to the sea after a tanker accident from the sea water.

We have separated oil from the sea water by using a separation funnel. But we used ping pong ball instead of valve. We filled full of ping pong with water. After we put sea water-oil mixture, ping pong ball stayed between the sea water and oil. The aim is that after the water flows ping-pong ball will close the hole before the oil starts to flow. The system is easy and used well. With this system we can clean the sea before the oil damages animates

For our system’s industrial form we made a new mechanism. According to this new method we thought that instead of vertical moving system, a floating system will be more productive for energy saving. For that reason, we placed another pot under the mechanism. If we don’t prevent water floating under the mechanism according to Archimed principle ping-pong ball couldn’t lose the hole.

In this floating mechanism water-oil mixture is taken by a cover with period regulated in the water level. This mixture is separated with ping-pong ball’s help. Water which is collected in the lower pot and oil which remains above ping-pong ball are transferred with period regulated valves and diesel pumps to tanks. And then water spills to sea. So we both clean the sea and provide the recycling oil.

Jennifer VanderWeele, USA — Extracting Oil from Algae Grown in Wastewater for Biodiesel Production

The purpose of my project was to design a process to grow algae in municipal wastewater obtained from my local wastewater treatment plant and extract a significant amount of oil from the algae for biodiesel production. Three strains of freshwater algae were grown in three different dilutions of wastewater. Algae from the four best-growing combinations were filtered and divided into two parts. Two different extraction methods were applied to each of the four samples. One extraction method involved grinding dried algae with a mortar and pestle. The second method involved mashing wet algae in a rock tumbler for 24 hours with small stainless steel balls. At the end of each process, the oil was extracted by adding hexane solvent, filtering out the algae solids, and evaporating off the hexane, so that only oil remained. Because the algae was not completely filtered out in the dry extraction method, results inaccurately include some algae mass in addition to the oil. For this reason, the dry extraction data is unreliable. By visual assessment, the dry extraction appeared to remove little, if any, oil from the algae. The rock tumbler extraction method, however, did successfully remove some oil from the algae. I met four of my five engineering goals by successfully growing two species of algae in wastewater and extracting oil from that algae using a mechanical extraction process. However, I did not meet my goal of obtaining 25% of the algae dry mass as oil; my highest oil yield was 17.5%.

Eric Hodnefield, USA — Personal Automated Ethanol Fermenter and Distiller

Ethanol may eventually become our main source of alternative fuel. Our engineering goal was to create an apparatus that would be able to ferment and distill ethanol for personal use. This apparatus goes through the entire process with little human involvement. The ethanol machine contains a system of copper tubes, metal pots, electric valves, a pump, a microprocessor, and other electrical components. One of the pots is used for fermentation and the other pot is used for distillation. All electrical devices are connected to the microprocessor. The microprocessor is programmed by a computer to turn on the electrical valves and pump when needed to transport liquid between the pots, and to supply our cooling system with water. Temperature probes and water sensors are installed in the two pots to monitor the water temperature and the water level. The data from the probes and sensors are fed through the microcontroller which uses the data to determine when to turn on the various electrical devices. Cracked corn, enzymes, yeast, and water are used in the fermentation process. After fermentation is done, the liquid is moved to the distilling pot where it is heated. The steam then rises through the copper tubes and eventually is cooled down by the condenser. After testing the apparatus, we successfully produced ethanol. The ethanol making process is actually a simple process. By adding many electrical components to our setup, we were able to make the process even simpler for home use.

Bradley Williams, USA — Energy Conservation Through The Mitigation of Multiple Daylighting Facade Scenarios for Schools.

My research quantified how the season of the year, climate of an area, and the orientation of a school affected the natural illumination and energy conservation of a classroom. After re-creating my school’s classroom and developing three new scenarios, I used the Sensor Placement and Optimization Tool (SPOT) program to see how the illumination of the room changes with each variable combination. Each model had the exact same window area, but on the three new models, light shelves were installed. Light shelves were the topic of last year’s experiment entitled “The Angle of Light Shelves and their Seasonal Efficiency in Natural Illumination and Solar Heat Gain.” This year’s project variables consisted of Summer, Winter, or Equinox; Overcast or Clear; and North or South. The control model was the current classroom style and one of the new models was based on a common mistake made by architectural engineers when designing “green” schools. I found my results to be surprising in regards to how much money can be saved in electricity bills when changing to one of my new “green” school strategies.

Cleiton and Pitter Cuiaba, Brazil — Washing Machines’ Spare Parts Transformed into a Bread Dough Mixer

Hunger is still a global problem that affects a large part of the human population. Low-income families are the most affected due to their socio-economical difficulties. Residents of the Jardim Vitória neighborhood in Cuiaba, Mato Grosso, Brazil, need help to improve the community’s children, teenagers’ and adults’ health. This study may help the deployment of a production system for homemade bread to attend the daily consumption of these families. The research consisted on the study of local reality daily bread consumption and the development of a bread dough mixer based on old washing machines’ spare parts. The developed prototype was taken to the houses of some families, where on weekends, they made bread for the neighborhood community nursery. Preliminary results are satisfactory as the equipment helped reduce the average cost of bread consumption for each family that was initially $30.45 (thirty dollars and forty-five cents) and was reduced to $14.70 (fourteen dollars and seventy cents), corresponding to 51.72% reduction of the total monthly bread cost.

Kazem Amman, Jordan — A Solar System for the Distillation of Sea Water

Due to the lack of pure drinkable water in many places around the world, and due to the fact that solar energy is probably the most abundant, renewable and free energy in existence, I decided to carry out my research in the field of distilling sea water, or any non-pure water, using solar energy. This challenging quest needed an in depth investigation. Many thoughts developed, several experiments were carried out to determine the materials and the components I should use, as well as how to overcome certain operational problems. The final system consists primarily of a solar panel, a heat exchange and a solar reflective dish. The heat exchange fluid is heated up to high temperatures in the solar panel. The fluid circulates by the aid of a pump through the panel to a heat exchange unit where water flows. Water will then heat up, evaporate and pure water will condense on a cooled tilted surface for collection. The design of the solar panel and the chemicals used are unique of high efficiency. The reflective dish is another means to collect and utilize solar energy. It will be focused on one side of the heat exchange unit and will further support the system by directing solar energy to heat up the water. The system was tested in January and it was able to trap 16% of solar energy. In conclusion, my system contributes utterly to both the humanity and our environment.

And the duo from Albania looking at a clean air systems aimed at children’s well being.

Young Scientists Flip Video Record Road to Intel ISEF08

My Intel pal Gail Dundas came up with the idea of getting The Flip video camera into the hands of some contestants so they could record their Road to Intel ISEF.  We’ve all fallen in love with the nifty, simple to use digital video camera that you can easily carry anywhere.

Here’s footage shot by Mathew McCarney and Adam Magill of Ireland:

Tobias Noerbo is from Denmark and he shows his fascinating mechanical engineering skills.

These are almost like digital video resumes for these contestants.  They’re also a cool addition to our story sharing efforts, as it’s told in their words, their way.

Watchful Wi-Fi Detective at Intel ISEF 2008

Could a roving camera help us find better Wi-Fi Internet connections?

Ideas like this signal detector, if practical and shrinkable (cost and size), they stand a chance of getting integrated into future products.

In some ways, that’s how Intel Centrino mobile technology lifted mobile computing to new heights in 2003 by integrating the improving, shrinking Wi-Fi chip and antenna technology inside the computer motherboard.

I wonder what Vic Hayes would say about this Wi-Fi camera signal detector. He often referred to the “father of Wi-Fi” for helping design standards such as IEEE 802.11b, and 802.11a.

Hong Kong Drunk Driving Breathalyser

The red Ferrari toy car, toy car steering wheel and blinking red lights caught my eye and the eye of passersby strolling through the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. Thursday, May 15 the event was open to the public. It was packed with parents and children, teachers and students, mom’s and grandmas and lots of grampas.

A duo from Hong Kong shows us the alcohol breath tester that could help keep drunk people from getting behind the wheel of their own vehicle. Their demo was a hit all afternoon.

One young bystander asked: Will you make one that detects cigarette smoke? We all chuckled and went our own way thinking that question was undeniably inspirational!