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The Madison Record

Phillips, Saha in prestigious foundation’s Top 300 STEM students

MADISON – Arian Phillips and Sahishnu Saha of Madison have qualified among the nation’s top middle school scientists.

Phillips and Saha have joined the ranks of an elite group, the Top 300 Broadcom MASTERS, a premier national competition in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math or STEM for middle school students.

The Society for Science founded the Broadcom MASTERS program to inspire young scientists, engineers and innovators to solve the grand challenges of the 21st century, according to spokesperson Gayle Kansagor.

Phillips is in eighth grade as a home-school student in Madison. Phillips’ project for the Broadcom program is entitled, “Don’t Believe Everything You Smell: The Effects of Cooking Pollution on Human Vitals and Pulmonary Functions.”

Saha, also in eighth grade, attends Liberty Middle School. Saha’s project is “Machine Learning to Identify Near Earth Objects (NEOs).”

Other students chose to research challenges for efficiency of solar panels, early detection of algal blooms, circumventing ventilator shortages, using machines to detect heart arrhythmias, data security and face mask effectiveness.

The Top 300 MASTERS students were selected from a pool of 1,841 applicants from 48 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and Virgin Islands. These students demonstrate tremendous determination and resilience to engage in science and complete their research projects despite the challenges in the face of the pandemic, including remote learning.

In a contemporary trend, more than half of the top 300 young scientists in the country are girls. Each of the Top 300 MASTERS will receive a $125 award from Department of Defense STEM and a prize package with gifts ranging from magazine subscriptions to software.

To qualify for Broadcom MASTERS, a student must rate in the top 10 percent of his or her science fair. The program is the only STEM competition for middle school that leverages science fairs affiliated with Society for Science as a critical component of the STEM talent pipeline.

The two most popular categories for projects are “Earth and Environmental Sciences” with 42 entries and “Behavioral and Social Sciences” with 38. More than two-thirds or 206 students in the MASTERS go to public school, 59 students or 19.7 percent in private school and 15 students or 5 percent in charter schools. The remaining students are in home, magnet or online schools.

Founded in April 2009, the Broadcom Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation that advances STEM education by funding research and increasing students’ opportunity. Headquarters are in Washington D.C. For more information, visit broadcomfoundation.org/masters.

Established in 1921, the Society for Science, also a nonprofit, promotes understanding and appreciation of science and its vital role in human advancement. For more information, visit societyforscience.org.

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