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Ashwin Prabhakar named national finalist in STEM

MADISON – Madison student Ashwin Prabhakar has earned a slot among Top 30 finalists in Broadcom MASTERS, the nation’s premier competition in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics or STEM for middle school students.

Prabhakar is the only finalist from Alabama in the national contest. A panel of distinguished scientists and engineers selected the finalists from 2,348 applicants in 47 states, Washington D.C. and two United States territories.

Prabhakar, who is 14 years old, qualified for the Top 30 as a student at Discovery Middle School. Currently, he is a freshman at Bob Jones High School. “Ashwin is definitely adored by our faculty,” Discovery Assistant Principal Kate Wade said.

In his experiments, Prabhakar has researched the use of multifunctional biodegradable polymers for environmental applications. Recently, he received a Mayor’s Award for science.

The Society for Science & the Public founded and produces the Broadcom MASTERS program. The contests encourage middle school students to translate their interests into a passion for STEM and continue their study in high school, college and beyond.

“Congratulations to all our amazing finalists,” Broadcom Foundation President Paula Golden said. “It’s exciting to see so many young women scientists and engineers — 60 percent — in the competition this year. I believe that this bodes well for achieving greater gender equity in future STEM careers.”

The finalists submitted projects that covered environmental and earth science, medicine, electrical and mechanical engineering, microbiology, biochemistry, bioengineering, computer science, behavioral and social sciences, energy, zoology, chemistry and botany.

Most 2019 projects focused on environmental issues. Students examined the impact of automotive exhaust on bacteria, improvements to automobile safety, deactivating opioids, using plants as coagulants to purify drinking water, developing a screen for genetic mutations and monitoring water quality.

All finalists receive $500 and an all-expense paid trip to Washington D.C. for the national competition on Oct. 25-30. Prabhakar and his peers will participate in rigorous competition for more than $100,000 in awards. Students will leverage project-based learning to test and demonstrate their mastery of 21st-Century skills.

Students will meet with government officials on Oct. 29 and showcase their projects for the public during a free event at the University of the District of Columbia.

Broadcom MASTERS recognizes finalists’ science teachers with a one-year classroom subscription to “Science News” magazine and $1,000 each for STEM activities.

For more information, visit broadcomfoundation.org.

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