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Chapters Participate in Intel International Science and Engineering Fair

1 July 2014 95 views No Comment
Soham Daga, 17, from Stuyvesant High School, Manhattan, New York, won first place.

Soham Daga, 17, from Stuyvesant High School, Manhattan, New York, won first place.

The Southern California and Orange County/Long Beach chapters participated in the 2014 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) May 12–16 in Los Angeles. More than 35 judges evaluated more than 1,400 projects from virtually every scientific and engineering discipline (because statistics is used in every discipline).

On the first day of reviews, the judges selected about 85 projects that incorporated detailed statistical analysis. From this group, they chose 16 entries for the final interview round the next day. After conducting interviews with the finalists in the morning, the judges selected the three winners and awarded honorable mention to the rest.

The first-place winner was Soham Daga, 17, from Stuyvesant High School in New York. His econometrics project used Google Trends analytic data to enhance prediction of mortgage default within 1–2 years with the goal of providing an optimal window to banks to help protect borrowers from default. Toward that end, he did a principal component analysis to field a long list of economic predictors and then a time series analysis with and without Google Trend data over standard economic predictors. Daga received $1,500, while the second- and third-place winners received $500 and $250, respectively.

Alan Rong (president, Southern California Chapter) of Amgen and Harry Hiner (vice president, Orange County/Long Beach Chapter) of Hiner Partners attended the special awards night to present ASA certificates to the winners. All winners and honorable mention awardees received one-year student memberships in the ASA, which included subscriptions to Significance and CHANCE.

Many of the judges indicated that they were energized and transformed by the breadth and depth of the research methods and concomitant inferential analysis applied to address pressing issues in areas as diverse as health care, energy, sustainability, material science, pharmacology, biochemistry, and financial economics. The students offered background literature (with references), purposeful hypotheses, detailed analysis and results (occasionally with explanatory code on their laptops), and integrated conclusions. The judges were particularly impressed with the rich diversity of students, including groups of students from Qatar, Egypt, Tunisia, Brazil, Japan, Russia, and historically under-represented areas in the United States.

In addition to reviewing the projects, judges also participated in outreach to students beyond the top winners for the first time. Four hundred of the most promising projects brought their creators a copy of CHANCE magazine and a certificate for a free ebook.

Also, Tom Short of John Carroll University presented a Tuesday morning symposium for ISEF finalists, teachers, and mentors. Approximately 80 people were in attendance as he presented a talk titled “Statistics and Data Science: Design, Significance, and Modeling in Context.” After the symposium, finalists and teachers had many questions about specific science fair projects and the broader role of statistics in K–12 science education.

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