12-year old New York student wins $25,000 Broadcom MASTERS award

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Ishana Kumar, 12, from Chappaqua, New York, won the $25,000 Samueli Foundation Prize, the top award in the Broadcom MASTERS (Math, Applied Science, Technology, and Engineering for Rising Stars), a science and engineering competition for middle school students. Photo Courtesy: Society for Science & the Public

Ishana Kumar, 12, from Chappaqua, New York, won the $25,000 Samueli Foundation Prize, the top award in the Broadcom MASTERS (Math, Applied Science, Technology, and Engineering for Rising Stars), a science and engineering competition for middle school students.

Broadcom Foundation and Society for Science & the Public made the announcement on Oct. 21.

According to a press release by Society for Science & the Public, Kumar investigated whether retinal fatigue changes the perception of “imaginary colors,” an illusion of color most commonly seen from a spinning a black and white disk, called a Benham’s disk.

Kumar had her subjects looked at the Benham’s disk, and then stared at a red, blue or green light. Next, her subjects stared back at the Benham’s disk, and determined whether the imaginary colors changed as a result of retinal fatigue, the phenomenon that occurs when someone stares at a brightly lit, colored area for a while.

According to the science institute, the 12-yr old’s research could lead to a better understanding of eye disease, our neural pathways as well as both color and cognitive processing.

The other top winners also tackled pressing issues including climate change, gender parity in clinical trials, gerrymandering of voting districts, and communicating with the deaf and hard of hearing.

Kumar topped 30 finalists. Each finalist’s school will receive $1,000 from the Broadcom MASTERS program to benefit their STEM initiatives. The finalists were chosen from 3,476 applicants in 42 states and Puerto Rico.

For the first time, the competition took place virtually to keep the finalists and their families safe during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

In addition to the top prizes, the Broadcom Foundation and the Society also announced first and second place winners in each of the STEM categories of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, the Team Award and two Rising Stars who will be the U.S. delegates at the Broadcom MASTERS International and official observers to Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF).

Other Indian-Americans among the winners include:

Anita Gaenko, 8th Grader from Clague Middle School, Ann Arbor, MI bagged the First Place in Engineering Award for her project, Not All That Is Yellow Is Turmeric: Designing Analytical Chemistry Methods and Photometric Circuitry to Detect Lead Chromate Adulteration of Turmeric. She was awarded $3500.

Snigtha Mohanraj, 7th Grader at Engineering and Science University Inter-district Magnet School, West Haven, CT received the Rising Star Award for her project, Effectiveness of the Organic Polymers for Removing Microplastic in an Aqueous Solution.

Ishan Ahluwalia (8th Grade, Stoller Middle School Portland, OR), Vivaana Haval (7th Grade, Metrolina Regional Scholars Academy Charlotte, NC) and Abhijeet Ghosh (6th Grade, Dodgen Middle School Marietta, GA) from the Silver Team won the Team Award for demonstrating their ability to work together and solve problems through shared decision making, communication and scientific and engineering collaboration. They won gift cards to a science supply company.

Agastya Sridharan, 8th Grader at Thurgood Marshall Middle School, San Diego, CA was awarded the Broadcom Leadership Award for his project, Quantifying the Impact of Search-Order Bias on Voting Preferences Using a Simulated Web Environment

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