LAPS NEWS RELEASE
Society for Science announced the 30 finalists in the inaugural Thermo Fisher Scientific Junior Innovators Challenge (Thermo Fisher JIC), the nation’s premier middle school science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) competition. The Thermo Fisher JIC, a program of the Society for Science, seeks to inspire young scientists, engineers and innovators who will solve the grand challenges of the future.
Tate Plohr, now a freshman at Los Alamos High School, is one of these finalists. His project is titled, The Stability of Solar Flares.
For the past few years, Tate has attended public lectures at the local nature center, PEEC. One of them was about the sun. “I learned that the Aurora Borealis is actually a solar magnetic storm interacting with the Earth’s magnetic field,” Tate said. He wanted to know how solar flares could extend all the way to Earth’s atmosphere. These flares consist of plasma pushing out of the surface of the sun. “Sometimes they can form coronal mass ejections,” Tate said, which involves “big blobs of high-energy plasma that spew out in a random direction.” But when they hit Earth’s atmosphere, “they can damage electrical systems, disrupt communications and even endanger lives.” Tate examined factors that change solar flares’ stability by modeling them on a computer.
The 30 finalists were selected by a nationwide panel of scientists, engineers and educators from a pool of Top 300 Junior Innovators announced earlier this month. The finalists will attend the Thermo Fisher JIC Finals Week in Washington, D.C.f rom October 28 – November 2, where a panel of judges will evaluate their scientific research and their communication, creativity and collaboration skills during team challenges.
Thermo Fisher’s sponsorship of the Junior Innovators Challenge continues its longstanding commitment to widespread and equitable access to STEM education. Together with Society for Science, Thermo Fisher is helping to increase the number of students who enter the competition and nurture a future STEM talent pool that is more diverse than ever.
“I applaud the top 30 Thermo Fisher Scientific Junior Innovator Challenge finalists! I look forward to meeting them in Washington, DC,” said Maya Ajmera, President & CEO of the Society for Science and Executive Publisher of Science News. “These young people are truly inspiring, with many of them seeking to solve problems within their own communities. They give me hope for the future.”
“Congratulations to these 30 finalists, who demonstrate a talent and passion for scientific inquiry that’s far beyond their years,” said Dr. Karen Nelson, Chief Scientific Officer, Thermo Fisher Scientific. “As a company that promotes access and equity in STEM, we are delighted to see this cohort of finalists who have the power to change the face of their fields as they move through their careers.”
Thermo Fisher JIC Finalist Fast Facts:
- More than half of this year’s finalists identify as female
- The top project category is Engineering
- The finalists come from 12 states, led by California, Texas and Georgia
- More than half of the finalists attend public school
A full list of the finalists can be viewed here: https://www.societyforscience.org/jic/2023-finalists/.
The Thermo Fisher JIC reaches 65,000 students annually through the Society’s Affiliated Fair network. Students who are named in the top 10% of their local affiliated science fairs are eligible to enter the Thermo Fisher JIC, the only middle school STEM competition that leverages Society-affiliated science fairs as a critical component of the STEM talent pipeline. All finalists receive a $500 cash award and will participate in the Thermo Fisher JIC Finals Week in Washington, DC, where they will compete for the following awards:
- $25,000 Thermo Fisher Scientific ASCEND (Aspiring Scientists Cultivating Exciting New Discoveries) Award, which will go to the student who demonstrates mastery of all STEM fields and exemplifies how research, innovation and teamwork come together to impact our everyday lives.
- $10,000 Broadcom Coding with Commitment Award TM, presented to a finalist whose project and performance combines expert STEM knowledge and passion for helping or improving one’s community through computation/coding.
- $10,000 DoD STEM Talent Award, which will be awarded to a finalist who demonstrates excellence in science, technology, engineering or math, along with the leadership and technical skills necessary to excel in the 21st century STEM workforce.
- $10,000 Lemelson Award for Invention, awarded by The Lemelson Foundation to a young inventor creating promising solutions to real-world problems.
- $10,000 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Award for Health Advancement, which recognizes the student whose work and performance show the most promise in health-related fields and demonstrates an understanding of the many social factors that affect the health of communities.
- First and Second Place Awards issued in each category of STEM of $3,500 or $2,500, respectively, to be used toward a STEM summer camp experience.
- Team Award, sponsored by Teaching Institute for Excellence in STEM (TIES), which awards a $200 gift card to a science supply company in support of their interests in STEM to each member of the team that best demonstrates their ability to work together and solve problems through shared decision making, communication and scientific and engineering collaboration.
The Thermo Fisher JIC recognizes finalists’ schools with $1,000 each to use toward STEM activities.
About Society for Science
Society for Science is a champion for science, dedicated to promoting the understanding and appreciation of science and the vital role it plays in human advancement. Established in 1921, Society for Science is best known for its award-winning journalism through Science News and Science News Explores, its world-class science research competitions for students, including the Regeneron Science Talent Search, the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair and the Thermo Fisher Scientific Junior Innovators Challenge, and its outreach and equity programming that seeks to ensure that all students have an opportunity to pursue a career in STEM. A 501(c)(3) membership organization, Society for Science is committed to inform, educate and inspire. Learn more at www.societyforscience.org and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat (Society4Science).