The Intel ISEF 2009 Combines the Two Most Wonderful Things in the World: Science and Kids

Geek Culture

Well, the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair is over leaving me somewhat hollow inside. I will now leave the world of brilliant, talented high school students devoting their considerable talents to solving the world’s problems, to return to the world of mediocre, miserable adults who create the world’s problems.

Seriously, seeing all of these kids and their projects is really interesting and amazing. Take all of the science in the world, infuse some rather intense youth energy into it, support the kids so they can do whatever work they want, give them just enough structure to keep them from blowing things up, and then let them cut loose and have fun every once in a while (they even had a couple of dance nights for the kids). In the end you are left with the awe and certainty that combining youth with science is one of those things in this world that really works and works well.

So, those being the two chief elements to Intel’s formula, let me leave you with two video demonstrations of that. First, the science, or what Li Boynton had to say about it.

Li Boynton on Science

Li was one of three winners of the ISEF top prize which is a $50,000 scholarship. Or, as Li will be calling it when the patent goes through, “chump change”. Her experiment was to develop a bio-sensor from bioluminescent bacterium which attaches itself to pollutants and glows so you can see if a sample of water is polluted. Whoa.

Next is the Puerto Rican team showing us some youth energy worthy of “Fame“. Puerto Rico esta aqui! I have never seen teenagers so unafraid to have fun and not be self-conscious.

Puerto Rican Team Having Fun

They make me think I was born in the wrong country.

I say this as a compliment, these kids are geeks. Not just because they’re brilliant, but because they’re not afraid to be brilliant or enthusiastic. Or, in the words of GeekDad favorite Marian Call:

“I will never play it cool, so I will never once be bored.”

Thanks one last time to Kara Gaffney ( and Kiesha Cochrane ( and all the folks at Intel PR for all their help and support during the fair.

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