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Science and math whiz kids will vie for $20,000 prize

Five individuals and five teams of high school students will compete at MIT this Saturday in the New England regional Siemens Westinghouse Science and Technology Competition, a scholarship and awards program of the Siemens Foundation.

The competition, in its inaugural year, was created to promote and advance math and science education in America.

The competition is open to individuals and teams of high school students who develop independent research projects in the physical or biological sciences or mathematics. Members of the MIT community are invited to the presentations, which will take place from 8am-12:30pm on Saturday, Nov. 13 in Rm 6-120.

The New England regional finalists, whose entries span mathematics, biology, environmental science, physics, computer science and chemistry, will present their independent research projects to a panel of MIT judges. The judges are Leslie Perelman, director of Writing Across the Curriculum; Maurice S. Fox, professor of biology; Maria Zuber, professor of earth, atmospheric and planetary sciences; Hal Abelson, the Class of 1922 Professor and MacVicar Teaching Fellow in electrical engineering and computer science; and David Vogan, professor and head of the Department of Mathematics. Student projects are judged on originality, creativity, academic rigor and clarity of communication.

"Few things are more important than to encourage and reward study and accomplishment in science, mathematics and technology among young people," said President Charles M. Vest. "This is the key to future discovery and innovation in our society, which in turn will drive our economy and enable us to improve our quality of life, health and environment."

Competitions in six regions across the United States are being held in October and November. The six individuals and six teams of finalists will go on to compete in Washington, DC in December for a top individual scholarship prize of $100,000. Members of the top team will share a $90,000 scholarship.

Regional competitions, which are co-administered by Siemens, the College Board and the Educational Testing Service, have been held at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of California at Berkeley. The University of Notre Dame competition is being held on November 12-13. The Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Texas at Austin will host their competitions November 19-20.

The individual winner of the New England regional finalists will receive an award of $20,000; members of the winning regional team will share a prize of $30,000. All of the prize money will be applied toward the winning students' undergraduate or graduate education.

During the two-day event, the Institute will host the student competitors and their chaperones at on-campus activities and tours of university laboratories and facilities.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on November 10, 1999.

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