This year, at the National Institute on Drug Abuse Addiction (NIDA) Science Awards of the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), 1,500 high school students applied from 70 countries. The Society for Science and the Public partners with Intel and other donors sponsor for this special competition. The first prize winner receives a $2,000 scholarship and all winners receive cash awards.
The first prize winner, John Edward Sokler, developed a method of optogenetically revealing differences in genetically modified mice that sheds light (pun on the optogenetic nature of the experiment) on addiction, Parkinson’s, and schizophrenia.
The second place winner, Benjamin Jake Kornick, conducted a 74-item survey, asking teens to take the survey about Facebook and parent-child relationships. The judges considered the survey’s approach “highly nuanced” and examining the intricacies that are often missed in other surveys.
The third place winner, L. Elizabeth Burton, examined body image issues in boys and girls, finding that how they perceived themselves physically affected their self-esteem directly and that few teens understood that the images of movie stars and magazines were photo shopped, dieted, anorexic, bulimic, and steroid-induce, or altered.
While there are usually only three winners, this year there was a fourth. Zarin Ibnat Rahman found that chewing gum can improve attention and memory, consistent with brain imaging studies done with ADHD adolescents.
Congratulations to John Edlward Sokler, Benjamin Jake Kornick, L. Elizabeth Burton, and Zarin Ibnat Rahman! Your experiments sound amazing and you clearly have bright futures ahead of you!