Categorized | Technology

Buchholz senior to compete in national science contest

Her love for physics helped her win $25,000. She has the possibility of winning more.

Sidhika Balachandar, a student at Buchholz High School, was recently selected as one of the top 40 finalists in the Regeneron Science Talent Search (formerly known as the Intel Science Talent Search), a prestigious science and math competition for high school seniors.

The finalists were selected based on their project’s scientific rigor and their potential to become world-changing science leaders. The finalists will travel to Washington, D.C., from March 8-14 for judging and to compete for more than $1.8 million in awards.

Balachandar’s project, titled Picoscale Mechanics of Atomically Engineered Materials, worked closely with superconductors, which offer little or no resistance to the flow of electricity.

The project is meant to help with the amount of energy that we save in the future, she said.

“Superconductors are important because they improve energy efficiency,” she said. “A lot of wastage in the traveling of the electricity gets turned into heat.”

Superconductors can dramatically reduce this waste so that none of it gets wasted, she said.

“Doing this to find application for it in the real world such as using it for energy efficiency, is really amazing,” she said.

The research was conducted in Boston as part of a research program that took place for six weeks over summer 2017. The project was initially challenging, but became easier after working with a mentor at Boston College, she said.

Her love for physics began in the classroom, but she was limited to just mechanics in the high school setting. This inspired her to become a dual-enrolled student at the University of Florida where she was able to conduct research in physics using things like 3-D printers, she said.

“I began to take classes in linear algebra and Calculus 3 as well,” she said. “It really inspired me to go further and get into harder topics.”

Balachandar said she was surprised when she received the call that she was a finalist.

“I was so excited, I knew I had a good project but it was really a surprise,” she said.

In her time in D.C, the 40 finalists will compete for 10 slots. The competitors will tour the National Institutes of Health and speak with top leaders in the STEM field, she said.

The 10 winners will be named at a black-tie gala on March 13. The first-place winner will be awarded $250,000, in addition to the money they received for being a top-40 finalist. The other nine winners also will receive monetary prizes, she said.

Balachandar said she is excited to meet the other finalists in the competition.

“All of us have been chosen because of our interest in science,” she said. “Beyond the research we watch the same TV shows and enjoy the same activities.”

The contest’s alumni have gone on to win the Nobel Prize, found top science-based companies and invent groundbreaking new medical treatments, the news release said.

Article source: http://www.gainesville.com/news/20180212/buchholz-high-senior

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