A fourteen year old middle school student took home $25,000 because curiosity about an SUV led him to develop a science project. Broadcom MASTERS (Math, Applied Science, Technology, and Engineering Rising Stars) is a program that motivates young students to discover project-based learning through science and engineering competitions worldwide.

Middle schoolers are targeted because they have mastered the fundamentals of basic math and communication and are already thinking about what they want to be when they grow up. The competition is designed to help the student turn a personal interest into a project for the local science fair and become inspired to inspired to continue studying math and science in order to achieve a personal goal or aspiration.

Raymond Gilmartin goes from local science fair to win top award at Broadcom MASTERS. Photo credit: Pasadena Star News, Sarah Reingewirtz

Raymond Gilmartin goes from local science fair to win top award at Broadcom MASTERS. Photo credit: Pasadena Star News, Sarah Reingewirtz

Raymond Gilmartin from South Pasadena California won the Susan and Henry Samueli Foundation top award for his project entitled Spare the Environment, Spoiler the Car: The Effect of Rear Spoilers on Drag and Lift. The win was based on mastering STEM principles during the recent weeklong competition among 30 finalists. His project was said to exemplify how research and innovation are dependent on the integration of the disciplines of science, technology, engineering and math.

Many applied, the best were chosen - BCM 2012 Finalists

Many applied, the best were chosen – BCM 2012 Finalists

Other awards resulted from work with natural mosquito repellants, coral reefs, silver nanoparticles and pollution, gunpowder, blueberry mold, pharmaceutical contaminants in groundwater, harnessing wildfires, and a project titled Psychoacoustics: The Perception of Volume.

Gilmartin began his quest by overcoming 687 other competitors and winning the sweepstakes prize in his division at the Los Angeles County Science Fair. His project was designed to determine the optimum size and angle of rear spoilers for the most efficient gas mileage in SUV’s. With his homemade six foot cardboard wind tunnel, a Ford Expedition model, and 50 hours testing, his project came to life, while he strove to offset dangerous lift also caused by spoilers.

L.A. County Science Fair President Dean Gilbert said: "Every year maybe two percent of the projects are genius level, and Raymond’s was. This is a middle school kid that is looking at significant mathematics and environmental impact. There’s multiple sciences involved in this project."

The youngster said: "I like physics … I just found it all really interesting and I was dumbfounded that we know so little about how the world works." Gilmartin admitted: "I’m pretty nerdy."

The middle school student concluded that a level spoiler would increase drag compared to a car without a spoiler, but would not affect lift. He found that reducing drag can improve gas mileage, ultimately decreasing carbon emissions and helping to slow climate change. He moved on to win a medal at the State Science Fair and from there to win the top award at the MASTERS.

Jessika Baral's science project improves peripheral vision

Jessika Baral’s science project improves peripheral vision

Jessika Baral used engineering skills to create a device that looks a little like a Mexican sombrero with LED lights instead of fringe. Its purpose – to strengthen tired eye muscles and improve peripheral vision. Through her research, she found that regular exercise with the LED lit device significantly improved both peripheral vision and peripheral reading range in both children and adults.

Paula Golden, Executive Director of the Broadcom Foundation and Director, Community Affairs, for the Broadcom Corporation said:

"As they return home triumphant, each of our Broadcom MASTERS finalists will become ambassadors for STEM education. They will bring a cash award to their schools, inspiring their peers to see that math and science education throughout high school translates into college and career opportunities that will define their futures and help them achieve their full potential in a world that is hungry for talent and innovation." Besides financial awards each STEM winner received an iPad.

The 30 middle school finalists were almost split 50-50 between boys and girls. You can see who they are, where they are, and a brief description of each awe inspiring project at the website.