Home » Chapter News, Member News, Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh Chapter Judges 2018 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair

1 October 2018 No Comment

Statisticians from the Pittsburgh Chapter participated as judges in the 2018 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), held May 13–18 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Students participating were in grades 9–12 and earned the right to compete by winning a top prize at a local, regional, state, or national science fair. More than 20 volunteer judges (including Pittsburgh Chapter members and several out-of-town guests from other ASA chapters) were deployed to evaluate more than 1,300 science projects by students from around the world who represented a wide variety of scientific and engineering disciplines.

On Tuesday, the volunteers screened every ISEF project and selected just under 200 that incorporated advanced statistical analysis for a detailed round of scoring. The top 20 projects were selected for the final interview round. On Wednesday morning, the judges returned to conduct face-to-face interviews and select the top three winners.

The first-place winner was Erin Smith of Shawnee Mission West High School in Overland Park, Kansas. Her project title was “FacePrint: A Novel Differential Diagnostic and Monitoring Tool for Parkinson’s Disease, Essential Tremor, and Atypical Parkinsonism Using Facial Behavioral Biomarkers and Dynamic Video Footage Tracking with Machine Learning.” Hers was an impressive application, with clear and focused real-world application to Parkinson’s disease and related conditions. Smith received $1,500 from the ASA as the winner of the top overall statistics prize.

The second-place winner, Marvin Li of James M. Bennett High School in Salisbury, Maryland, received a $1,000 prize for “Machine Learning Algorithms for Satellite Remote Sensing of Ocean Color in Coastal Waters.” Li analyzed satellite data and validated a new algorithm for assessing water quality that outperformed the current NASA algorithm, which performs well in open ocean but less so for coastal waters.

The third-place winner was Suraj Modi of Mountain View High School in Lawrenceville, Georgia, who received a $500 prize for “A Rapid Prediction Method for Epileptic Seizures Using Machine Learning Algorithms.” Modi developed an app that could analyze EEG (electroencephalogram) data and reliably identify patterns of brain waves associated with an impending seizure 7–9 minutes before onset.

As president of the ASA’s Pittsburgh Chapter, Andrew Althouse of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine attended the special awards ceremony to present ASA certificates to the winners, who also received one-year student memberships to the ASA and one-year subscriptions to Significance and CHANCE.

ASA members who volunteered as judges were impressed by the depth of research methods and approaches the students applied to problems across specialties like medicine, energy, materials sciences, plant sciences, molecular biology, and computational biology. The students’ projects summarized background literature, purposeful hypotheses, detailed statistical analyses, and interpretation of their findings. Statistical methods that extended far beyond the scope of K–12 education, some even beyond traditional undergraduate statistics coursework, showed that these students brought a modern and sophisticated perspective to their work.

In addition to reviewing the projects, judges participated in extended outreach to students beyond the top winners. On the second day of review, the judges circulated among the students to distribute books and copies of CHANCE or Significance magazine to those who had shown facility with statistical methods in completing their project. The students seemed genuinely impressed that professional statisticians took notice of their work, and many were delighted to receive a book or magazine for further reading.

Chris Malone from Winona State University presented a symposium Monday for ISEF finalists, teachers, and mentors. Approximately 100 people were in attendance as Malone gave a talk titled “Best Practices for Incorporating Statistics and Charts in Your Project.” After the symposium, enthusiastic finalists and teachers had many questions about specific science fair projects and the broader role of statistics in K–12 science education and beyond.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)

Comments are closed.