It has been approximately one year since the creation of a blog. And we are back to the event that started it all: the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. A science fair is a place where the brightest minds from around the world come and present novel and advanced research. It’s a place where ideas have run rampant and some of the most well-known scientists have attended and placed. This year in Phoenix was no different. Despite the pestering heat and the sometimes dull afternoons in the hotel, Phoenix was far from a normal science fair. Indeed, it came with surprises in both awards and in friends.
The Exhibit Hall
Upon entering the exhibit hall where the 1582 products were all prepared and ready for judging was nothing short of dazzling. Every time I entered I felt a sense of purpose, a tingling feeling of motivation telling myself “I got this”, “I am ready”, “I am worthy”. Seeing each and every project just inspired me even more, great minds think alike I guess.
The Buildup and Presentation
As the week went on, and the presentation looming, I knew I was in a state where I was wholly nervous that I never truly felt before in past science fairs. I knew instantly that this year was different, that I truly had a chance this year. Indeed, before the science fair, I had just recently won a piano competition and was contemplating whether or not to attend the state piano competition rather than the science fair awards, I’m glad I chose the latter. Waking up Wednesday morning, the day of the presentation, I felt confident but scared, the pressure was truly on. However, that day, I felt a wave of relief as I presented to judge after judge, a sense of peace that culminated into the passion for my research. I presented with charisma and ways that I couldn’t imagine. It was truly one of the most memorable presentations that I have ever given. Judges all raved about my project, some said “this is amazing,” others said, “I see a startup in your future”.
On Thursday evening, the special awards ceremony began. I was in contention for three awards (at least awards that I knew of). As each award continued on and students went on and off the stage, I grew ever the more agitated. 2 out of 3 awards had past and my name was not called. I sat there worried out of my life, playing games on my phone to stay calm. I had told almost everyone I knew at the time that I was in contention for many awards, and so far I have not been meeting expectations. After a tumultuous hour of waiting, it came to the final award, the Oracle Academy Award of $5000. Each name was called, some from China, some from India. As each name was called, my doubt increased. Finally, the announcer said “From Blacksburg, Virginia” and I was ecstatic, I jumped over my chair and ran up on the stage. Out of the plethora of ways that night could have ended, it ended in a way that was absolutely perfect.
Friday morning was the Grand Awards, a place where I had no expectations for what I was to receive and where I sat in a daze, partly because I was nervous and excited, but also because I was half-asleep. As each category was called and the places named, it came down to 2nd place. Over 20 projects were called for both 4th and 3rd place in my category and it had finally came to the 2nd place category award. At this point, I knew that if I did not receive 2nd place, I would have no chance of receiving any other award. I sat there and waited. Surprisingly, the wait was not long. I was the second name called and I ran up with a skip in my step.
ISEF has taught me many lessons both in presentation and research. But the biggest thing ISEF has infused in me is a new sense of motivation for research and changing the world. Being a part of over 1500 researchers that put their hearts into research to help change the world is an experience that I would never give up. The world needs more students researchers that are willing to pursue their research and turn it into a reality for others to replicate and to expand upon. Our world revolves around science and it empowers the world. I challenge all my peers to change the status quo, to think beyond, and to change the world. All the while cherishing the memories you make along the way.
I’d like to thank everyone who has supported me this year, my advisor Harold “Skip” Garner, my teacher Mrs. Katharine Davis, my girlfriend Carly Smith, and my parents who I am so blessed to have. Thank you for all of the things, time, and effort you have given to me for this project.