The Intel International Science and Engineering Fair is the largest international pre-college science fair in the world, hosting students from 70 countries, regions and territories each year.
Held from May 12 to May 17 in Phoenix, Ariz., the fair was attended by juniors Aaron Aguhob and Supraja Chitarri, who were among 1,500 participants from all corners of the globe showcasing experiments. Chittari won third place in the animal science category.
The fair, which awards over three million dollars in prize money, gives out Best in Category awards and a Grand Prize. For the Best in Category award judges select the best experiment in each of the 17 categories. The first place winners of the Best in Category awards are granted a $5,000 scholarship and their schools receive a $1,000 grant.
The Grand Prize is the $75,000 Gordon E. Moore Award, which is offered to one student yearly in honor of the fair’s co-founder and selected based on “outstanding and innovative research,” according to the Society for Science & the Public website.
This year’s winner of the Grand Prize was Ionut Alexandru Budisteanu, a 19-year-old Romanian. He won the award for his work on artificial intelligence.
Chittari attended the Intel scieence fair after winning a first prize at the regional science fair.
Chittari’s experiment tests the effect of turmeric spice on the memory of planaria, a type of flatworm.
“What I basically did was put these worms through behavioral test and I added varied concentrations of turmeric to their environment to see if those worms affected […] would behave differently, and I found out that they were able to obtain more knowledge,” Chittari said.
Aguhob’s experiment involved fractals and wire radio signals.
To prepare for the International Science Fair, Chittari said that she would rehearse “as much as I can because obviously I [could not] take any more data.”
For Chittari, the best part of the science fair is the experience of meeting new people and seeing the other experiments.
“I think it’s the experience. It’s the experience of being in a lab; its the experience of meeting the judges and seeing the projects. I feel, for me, placing and prizes are all secondary because it reminds me that science is a community event and we all inspire each other and we all help each other,” Chittari said.