Some of the nation's brightest young minds recently competed in the ultimate science fair, which awards the top winner $100,000. NY1's Shazia Khan filed the following report.
Forty high school seniors from across the country on Sunday stepped into the spotlight as finalists of this year's Intel Science Talent Search, a program of Society for Science and the Public.
The next generation of science leaders shared their research on everything from nanoparticles to cancer at the National Geographic Society, in Washington DC.
"In the beginning I was a little frustrated, but then as I worked through it more and more, I saw possibilities and potential," said Lisa Michaels, a finalist from Plano, Texas.
The first place winner takes home a whopping $100,000. It's one reason why Alec Arshavsky of Chapel Hill, North Carolina entered his work on enhancing corneal transplantation surgery.
"In order to minimize negative side effects like farsightedness, a surgeon needs to know the precise three dimensional structure of the piece of transplant tissue, so I developed an algorithm to automatically characterize the structure," Arshavsky said.
Science may be at the heart of the competition but the finalists had almost a rock star status as they navigated adoring fans and journalists, even handing out baseball cards that included information about their project as well as some fun facts about themselves.
"I think it really speaks to, science, isn't really a thing. It's not really the nerd in the closet. I think it's a perspective and for me, it changes the way that I see everything," said Sara Sakowitz, a finalist from New York City.
And if you're hoping to become a science leader, failure may just be the key to your success.
"In school you are rewarded for always getting it right, never making a mistake. In science, you are rewarded for making the mistake and figuring out what went wrong and how to do it differently next time," said Intel Foundation Executive Director Wendy Hawkins.
For more information about STEM opportunities in your community, visit connectamillionminds.com.
Time Warner Cable is the parent company of NY1.