From The Intel Science Talent Search: Meet Rachel Davis

Geek Culture

Rachel Davis, Intel  Science Talent Search 2012Rachel Davis, Intel  Science Talent Search 2012

Rachel Davis, Intel Science Talent Search 2012. Photo used with permission.

I’ve never talked to anyone who has talked with the president before, much less directly after they’ve talked with the president. But all that changed on Tuesday when I had the chance to chat with Intel Science Talent Search finalist Rachel Davis.

The Intel Science Talent Search is a prestigious national science competition for high school seniors, organized under the supervision of Wendy Hawkins, executive director of the Intel Foundation, a woman who had interesting things to say during her recent interview with GeekMom. Approximately 1,800 students submit their research each year for the chance to win various scholarships totaling over $1.25 million. Out of all the applicants, 40 finalists are flown to Washington, DC, to defend their research against a board of judges who will determine the top 10 finalists. While in DC they also get to participate in many fun activities, things like meeting with President Obama!

Finalist Rachel Davis who attends Smithtown High School East in St. James, NY, has an especially inspiring story. Rachel’s home burnt down five years ago, and from such tragedy arose her desire to help others in similar situations. “I lost absolutely everything and had to start over, and I just want to prevent that from ever happening to anyone else.” She trained to become a volunteer firefighter. “It breaks my heart when I go to a fire and I see someone lose everything, but just being able to help them get through it or help people salvage old photos or furniture — or anything really — makes me feel like I am making that difference and that I’m helping people. It makes me happy when other people are happy.”

During her training, she found out that some gas tanks are made from flammable plastic. From there, she sought out better materials for the job, namely polymers that are non-toxic, biodegradable, and flame retardant. “It’s really fun!” she said with enthusiasm. Because my high school experience was, um, vastly different from hers, I had to ask how one goes about getting involved in researching polymers while in high school.

[Read the rest of Ariane Coffin’s interview with Intel Science Talent Search finalist Rachel Davis on GeekMom!]

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