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September 6, 2012

The NC Science and Engineering Fair (NCSEF) is proud to announce that four North Carolina middle school students have been selected as semifinalists, and one as a finalist, in this year’s Broadcom MASTERS competition, the premier science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) competition in the United States for middle school students.
 
Judy Day, Director of the NCSEF commented, “We are extremely proud of our students being recognized by the Broadcom MASTERS as among the best student research projects in the nation.  NCSEF’s motto, Inspiring Innovation in Student Research, is based on our belief that our North Carolina students, regardless of their geographical location, can be among the most innovative and inspired students in the nation and across the globe.  These students are evidence of our state’s potential to excel.”
 
The semifinalists come from across the state including: Wilmington, Elon, Winston-Salem, and Chapel Hill.
 
Christopher Karras, from Wilmington Christian Academy, was selected as a semifinalist for his project entitled, “Could Our Addiction to Fossil Fuels Be Killing Our Coral Reefs?”  Semifinalist Megan Miller, from Western Alamance Middle School in Elon, did her research on aerodynamics: “Don’t Be a Drag; Improving the Aerodynamics of Tractor-Trailer Trucks.”
 
Semifinalist Sofia Pauca of Winston-Salem’s Hanes Magnet School studied autistic flies.  Her project was entitled, “Autism Flies Year 2:  Testing a Medication for Autism – Effects of MPEP on Repetitive Grooming Behaviors of 2 Copy and Stubby 1 Copy Dfmr1 Mutants in Drosophila Melanogaster.”
 
Finalist Chase Lewis, who is homeschooled in Chapel Hill, won with a chemistry project  entitled “Nitrocellulose: Speedy as a Flash.”  Lewis will travel to Washington, D.C. at the end of September for five days of competition against the remaining 29 Broadcom MASTERS finalists from across the US.  The winner will be awarded $25,000.
 
“The 2012 Broadcom MASTERS finalists represent the nation’s finest young innovators,” said Paula Golden, Executive Director of the Broadcom Foundation. “We need ideas from these students, and the thousands of others who participated in the Broadcom MASTERS this year to help solve the grand challenges of this century.”
 
The road to being a finalist is long.  The first step is winning 1st or 2nd place in the North Carolina Science and Engineering Fair, which is held at Meredith College in March every year.  The winning students are nominated to participate in the Broadcom MASTERS competition, which requires completing a 3,000-word application.
 
The 30 Broadcom MASTERS finalists are selected by a panel of distinguished scientists and engineers from among 300 semifinalists, who are chosen from 1,500 applicants located throughout the United States.
 
Lewis is excited about the opportunity to compete for the top $25,000 prize, but would be happy with any of the other prizes, including $10,000 cash, $5,000 cash, and experiential learning opportunities like a week at a STEM summer camp.  “It would be great if I won a prize,” Lewis says, “but I’m most excited about the opportunity to go to Washington and compete.”
 
If Lewis is not selected as a Broadcom MASTERS winner, he will have another chance in October at the finals of the 3M/Discovery “Young Scientist Challenge,” which also has a top prize of $25,000.  Lewis is one of the top 10 national finalists in the 3M/Discovery competition.
 
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The NC Science and Engineering Fair is sponsored by the NC Science Fair Foundation, a 501(c) 3, and a completely volunteer organization dedicated to increasing North Carolina student engagement in inquiry-based, student-led research in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.  For more information about being a volunteer, judge, or sponsor at NCSEF, contact Tom Williams at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 919-815-6658.