Sequim students star in science

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Sequim Gazette staff

The future is here.


Sean Weber competed with 29 other middle school- and junior high school-aged students in the U.S. Broadcom MASTERS science competition in Washington D.C. in late September and early October.


Weber and Krystal Horton of Menifee, Calif., earned Rising Star Awards at the competition, earning a to Intel ISEF, the world’s largest international high school science fair competition, in May 2014 as U.S. Broadcom MASTERS International Delegates.


Weber and Horton were selected “in recognition of their promise as future scientists and engineers and demonstrated leadership potential throughout the competition.”


Weber’s school, Sequim Middle School, will also receive $1,000 in his honor, as well as a $250 Walmart card for his class. Weber receives $500 from the Broadcom Foundation and a $250 Walmart gift certificate from Elmer’s.


Broadcom MASTERS competitors visited the White House’s Oval Office and shook President Barack Obama’s hand on Sept. 30. Additionally, competitors were honored by MIT by getting a celestial body named after them: Weber’s is minor planet Seanweber (28757), orbiting between Mars and Jupiter — it was discovered on April 27, 2000, a few months before Weber was born, by the Laboratory Nearā€Earth Asteroid Research Team.


Students did some sightseeing but spent the majority of their time doing math, science and engineering problems in mini group competitions. The challenges were designed for team collaboration to inspire and encourage the nation’s middle school students to excel as young scientists, engineers and innovators. A challenge on Oct. 1 included hands-on experience with Raspberry Pie, a small credit card-sized computer.


In addition to the Broadcom MASTERS itinerary, Weber was a guest at the Smithsonian Institute for a private tour; the tour included major exhibits such as the NASA spacecraft, the Spirit of St Louis, Amelia Earhart’s plane, World War II fighters and the Wright Brothers exhibit. His group also took a ride on the Metrorail, visited the Lincoln Memorial, Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, and saw the Washington Monument full lit at night. A highlight of their visit was the changing of the guard at Arlington National Cemetery.


Other Broadcom winners include: River Grace, 14, of West Melbourne, Fla., who won the $25,000 Samueli Foundation Prize in honor of overall STEM excellence for his study on endangered tortoises; and Eitan Acks, 14, of San Diego, Calif., who won the $10,000 Marconi/Samueli Award for Innovation in recognition of engineering excellence for his project on devices for speech therapy.


Sponsored by Broadcom Foundation, Broadcom MASTERS is a competition designed to inspire middle school age science and engineering enthusiasts to stay with science and math throughout high school.


Landoni shines, too

While Weber was planning for his Washington, D.C., trip, Sequim High School junior Katherine Landoni was also busy planning a presentation of her last science fair project’s poster at the Westin Hotel in Seattle.


For a period of nearly three hours at the 2013 Annual Meeting of the Association of Environmental and Engineering Geologists on Sept. 12 , she did just that. Landoni responded to inquiries about magnitude nine “Subduction Earthquakes as a Basis for Soil Liquefaction Analysis” to professional engineers, geologists and earth scientists.


Her ground-breaking investigation of the duration of strong ground motion and the potential for soil liquefaction was based on historical subduction zone earthquakes.


Of particular interest was her discovery that for M9 subduction zone earthquakes in Seattle, with durations of strong ground shaking at liquefiable soil sites of more than 143 seconds; the current standard methods of predicting liquefaction at a specific location may be inadequate.


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