300 of the Best and Brightest: Broadcom MASTERS Semifinalists Unveiled

App MASTERS Resized
Finalists from Broadcom MASTERS 2014 work on a team competition.

What sparks a student to stay with STEM?

Perhaps it’s the urge to explore, the quest to discover something new or to find an answer to an entirely novel question. For others, maybe it’s pursuing enthusiasm for a hobby or activity that deepens when tested with the scientific method. For others, it’s the chance to prove that he or she can figure out a solution to an important social or environmental challenge.

Take, for example, this year’s crop of semifinalists’ projects for the 5th annual Broadcom MASTERS, the nation’s most prestigious STEM competition for middle school students. Topics ranged from computer science and engineering to health and behavioral sciences. Students submitted projects that entitled: “Honey, I Found A Cure! Nature’s Healing Agent/Anti-Inflammatory,” “Communication Protocol: Self-driving Vehicles at Intersections,” and “Solar Desalination: An Eco-Friendly Solution for California’s Water Independence.”

It’s been a long road for this group of the 300 semifinalists, who represent the crème of the crop from around the nation and who were selected from a cohort of 2,230 applicants and more than 6,000 nominees nationwide.

First, they had to qualify in their regional or state science fair by being among the top 10 percent of participants.

Next, each of them completed a thorough application that probed their inspiration for the project, what problem they solved and what they hope to do in the future.

Finally, they were selected by a team of scientists, engineers and educators selected after three independent readings and evaluations.

“Today we are ecstatic to congratulate the 300 Broadcom MASTERS semifinalists that represent the best of the best among middle school STEM minds,” said Paula Golden, Executive Director, Broadcom Foundation and Director, Community Affairs, Broadcom. “Our hope is these students continue to turn personal interests into learning pathways that lead to exciting STEM careers and are inspired to be the next generation of scientists, engineers and innovators.”

View the 2015 list of 300 semifinalists and the official state-by-state breakdown here.

From this group of 300, only 30 participants will be chosen for a trip to Silicon Valley and a $25,000 grand prize during the Broadcom MASTERS finals in October.

Last year, the top honor was awarded to Holly Jackson of San Jose, Calif., who took her love and passion for sewing to engineer a device to measure the capacity and strength of stitched fabric. Potential applications include protective gear for contagious diseases such as Ebola or space suites and interplanetary parachutes for NASA.

Holly Jackson won the Broadcom MASTERS 2014 competition.
Holly Jackson won the Broadcom MASTERS 2014 competition.

This year’s group of semifinalists represent:
• 226 middle schools (the majority are public schools)
• 39 states and Puerto Rico
• 127 regional and state science fairs across the U.S.
• 61 are from California, followed by Florida with 31, Texas with 22, Oregon with 19 and Pennsylvania with 14
• 54 percent are female

Semifinalists receive an award ribbon, certificate of accomplishment, Broadcom MASTERS backpack, a one-year family digital subscription to Science News magazine, and a one year subscription to Mathematica+, courtesy of Wolfram Research.

In recognition of the role their teachers play in the success of these students, each semifinalist’s classroom will receive a collection of Sally Ride Science Career Books courtesy of Deloitte.

A program of Society for Science and the Public, the Broadcom MASTERS (Math, Applied Science, Technology and Engineering for Rising Stars) rewards and inspires sixth, seventh and eighth grade students to follow their personal passion in science or engineering and continue their studies in math and science throughout high school. The students are introduced to the scientific method and engineering process through science fair competitions and hands-on challenges which teach them the 21st century skills of critical thinking, collaboration, communication and creativity by focusing on Project-Based Learning and teamwork in their areas of interest.

Follow coverage of the finalists’ trip to Silicon Valley on Broadcom’s Facebook and Twitter, and Society for Science and the Public’s Facebook and Twitter. Winners are set to be announced October 6th during an awards ceremony that will feature Broadcom Technical Director and Raspberry Pi inventor Eben Upton as keynote speaker.