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Intel Education Science

Maryland Teen Wins World's Largest Science Fair 193

Velcroman1 writes "A Maryland student was awarded the top prize at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair on Friday for developing a urine and blood test that detects pancreatic cancer with 90 percent accuracy. Jack Andraka, 15, claimed the $75,000 prize for his test, which is roughly 28 times cheaper and faster, and over 100 times more sensitive than current tests. Each year, approximately 7 million high school students around the globe develop original research projects and present their work at local science fairs with the hope of winning."
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Maryland Teen Wins World's Largest Science Fair

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  • Congratulations. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mr1911 ( 1942298 ) on Monday May 21, 2012 @02:51PM (#40067829)
    Bright kid.
  • Help (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Bigby ( 659157 ) on Monday May 21, 2012 @03:01PM (#40067953)

    How much of the work supposedly done by this individual were actually done by the child? What about the others considered for the award? Science fairs have become a huge joke, and I'm sorry if this child actually did this on his own. Even HS fairs have no credibility.

  • by mx+b ( 2078162 ) on Monday May 21, 2012 @03:50PM (#40068577)

    An anecdote: I judged at a middle and high school science/engineering fair myself once, a few years ago now. It was an ... interesting experience. Before the judging began, we held a meeting in which the lead judge reminded jurors to "pick winners based on creativity and hard work of the CHILD, not the parents". Whenever possible, we tried to interview the kids to see if they had any inkling of the project contents; this was usually the best way to determine if the parents did the project or not.

    From what I saw that day, I would say half at best did the work themselves. One kid even admitted that his dad was an engineer and came up with the design, and he more or less just watched and took down notes (the parents had walked off when I came to his booth, so I guess they weren't around to stop him from being an honest little kid). I didn't even get the impression that he liked it much; more that the parents pushed him to doing it.

    I did not want to discourage interest in science, especially if the parents are really trying hard to encourage their kids, but at the end of the day I awarded my votes to the less visually impressive projects that were very obviously done by the kids. One was a simple experiment with growing plants in certain soil conditions. I can't remember exactly what the additive was. But nothing fancy. But here we got to the booth and the kid was beaming and excited to show off the plants, and demonstrated a decent grasp of scientific method (trying to control conditions, etc.). I gave her more points than the equivalent of the "quantum qubits" project.

    I haven't tried doing it again since then because honestly it made me feel discouraged. There were very few students truly interested in doing a science project, that were able to find a project interesting to them. Most of the projects struck me as either "completely cobbled together last minute in order to prevent a failing grade in science class", or "forced to do a particular project by overbearing parents that want the most spectacular project possible". I can see where it is very hard to judge in that environment because the helicopter parents will demand 1st prize when their kids don't deserve it. The fact that I was allowed to be a "secret" judge helped a bit that particular time. I imagine most people just thought I was a curious parent wandering around asking basic questions.

  • Re:Congratulations. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Missing.Matter ( 1845576 ) on Monday May 21, 2012 @04:12PM (#40068871)

    all entrants have to make clear up front what their contribution to their project was, how much help they had from others etc.

    Yeah of course they have to. That's the way it was back when I was in the fair. But this is not what happens. My highschool had a very large science program and we sent about 90-100 kids a year to regional fairs. For some reason it was the kids who had researcher/professor/PhD/engineer parents who always made it to the international fair. After competing in these fairs year after year, you get to know the crowd, who's legit, and what kind of nonsense is going on.

    If you really talk to these kids on a peer level (which you'll never be able to do at this point) you can see right through them. The judges are about the last people who have a grasp on the true character of some of these kids. I personally know a kid who completely faked his entire project year after year and never got caught. He was really good at faking work... probably was more effort than it would have taken to actually to the project. He won several high profile special awards from the military and armed forces for his "research."

  • by Belial6 ( 794905 ) on Monday May 21, 2012 @04:23PM (#40069031)
    This is systemic in our culture. My 8 year old son was part of a 'Book Club' recently. It was sad because the other parents insisted that the books their child "chose" be well outside of the reading level for the group. While my son wanted to do the club, we insisted that he actually read all of the books. It was a lot of hard work for him, and it entailed discussions throughout the book since much subject matter was more suited to High School students or adults.

    When the meetings came around, he was the only child that had actually read the books. The rest of the group were split in about thirds. 1/3 the parent read the book to the child and edited it as they did it to cut out any parts they didn't want their kid to hear. 1/3 just played the book on tape for the kid, and 1/3 just watched the movie adaptation when it was available.

    Every one of them patted themselves on the back for giving their kid 'culture' and being involved with their education.

"I shall expect a chemical cure for psychopathic behavior by 10 A.M. tomorrow, or I'll have your guts for spaghetti." -- a comic panel by Cotham