Indian students in Intel International Science and Engineering Fair

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Five teenagers, three individuals and one team of two, have done India proud by winning 2 grand awards and 5 special awards and 1 governmental award at the Intel ISEF, the world’s largest pre-collegiate science competition. Four of the six projects are chosen from over 150 that participated at the Indian leg of Intel ISEF, the Initiative for Research & Innovation in Science (IRIS).

Intel has entered into a partnership with Department of Science and Technology (DST) at Confederation of Indian Industries (CII), resulting in merger of two programmes, Intel Science Talent Discovery Fair and “Steer the Big Idea” into one program ‘IRIS – Initiative for Research & Innovation in Science’. IRIS 2007 has been initiated in March 2007 by inviting project synopses from participants in three categories from age 10 – 35 years. The truly innovative projects are then exposed to a much larger world of science and education. They represent India and showcase their work to the international scientific community at the largest pre-college science fair in the world – the Intel International Science and
Engineering Fair – Intel ISEF held every year in USA.

The event participation in 2007 has been a huge success for the Indian contingent comprising of Vaishnavi Viswanathan for category Environmental Science, Rishin Behl for Category Engineering, Aavishkar Apoorva Patel for category Physics, and Ram Raghunathan for category Computer Science. As team projects the winners were – Tanay Delima and Nikhil Khosla in Physics, and Rehan Netarwala & Sarvesh Nevetia in Engineering.

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Tanay Delima and Nikhil Khosla, Mumbai
Tanay Delima and Nikhil Khosla, both 15, from Dhirubhai Ambani International School, Mumbai has won Fourth prize of $500 in Team Category for Physical Sciences for there project ‘A Novel Advanced Brake Light Warning System to Prevent Vehicular Tailgating Accidents’.

Tailgating accidents account for 65% of all vehicular accidents. The aim of this experiment was to find out whether it was possible to prevent these tailgating accidents by giving the driver in the rear vehicle additional time to apply his brakes and thereby bring his car to a safe stop when the car in front stopped. Presently, the rear brake lights come on when the brakes are applied. They wondered whether, if an additional rear light of a different color came on when the accelerator was released prior to the brakes being applied, it would indicate to the driver in the car behind of a possible intention to stop, and he would then get that additional time required responding and bringing his car to a safe stop.

In this experimental setup, the subject was asked to stop the rear car with the brake pedal when he saw the brake lights of the car in front come on. The brake lights of the car in front operate in two modes. In mode 1 they come on when the brakes are applied like in all cars today. In mode 2 an additional yellow rear light comes on when the accelerator is released prior to the brakes being applied.

The distance taken by the subject to stop the rear car in the two modes was observed and the data analyzed. Conclusion: it was indeed useful for the driver at the rear to be able to detect when the front vehicle driver’s foot was taken off the accelerator.

“I realized the competition at the International level is nowhere close to what I experienced at IRIS National level. Meeting so many people was overwhelming. Regarding support from Intel we had received guidance at the coaching camp which helped in improving our project and also our presentation skills…”- Nikhil Khosla

Ram Raghunathan, Chennai
Ram Raghunathan, 16, from Sishya School, Chennai has won second prize of $500 for Computer Science in Individual Category for his project  FDIS: A Fast Frequency Distribution Based Interpolation Search Algorithm for Sorted Arrays.

Search of sorted arrays is a fundamental operation in computer science. In this project, Ram presents a novel search algorithm that utilises frequency distributions of data in the array paired with interpolation search to conduct the search more efficiently. The numerical experimentation showed FDIS performs significantly better than both Interpolation and Binary search algorithms on average number of searches and average time taken for the search. The worst-case performance of FDIS is better or not significantly different from that of Binary and Interpolation. I also analysed the impact of array size, frequency table size, and shape of data distribution on the performance of FDIS, relative to the other two.

Vaishnavi Vishwanathan, Mumbai

Vaishnavi Vishwanathan, 15, from Modern English High School, Mumbai has won second prize of $500 U.S. Savings Bond in Individual Category for Environmental Science for her project of ‘Termite Malady ? – A Herbal Remedy!!’

Termites are a major cause of destruction of property; especially wood, paper etc. They multiply very fast. Hence, controlling them is very difficult. They grow and reproduce under moist conditions. Termites are mainly cellulose degraders. Dead trees are also known to inhabit termites. Heritage buildings built close to 100 years ago are also known to inhabit termites. These buildings are meant to stand for years and hence one would have to spend lakhs of rupees in treating them.

As a part of the research on natural product efficacy against termites, I studied two main parameters:  The effect of Kusha root extract on controlling termite population The use of Kusha root extract as a wood preservative Wood samples were therefore treated with Kusha root extract. The results showed that the presence of Kusha root extract led the termites to exhibit a “lingering behavior”. They remained on the surface, all clumped together and unable to organize themselves. Hence they could not reach potential food sources through tunneling activity or building shelter tubes.

The study thus led her to conclude that the Kusha root extract is effective in controlling termites

” …Throughout my project the person who was constantly at my side was my guide Sitalakhsmi Parmeshwaran. She was my strength and motivator behind my success. Intel’s panel of scientists has helped me in reaching at this point…”- Vaishnavi Vishwanathan

Sarvesh Nevatia and Rehan Netarwala, Mumbai
Rehan Netarwala Sarvesh Nevatia, both 17, from Jai Hind College, Mumbai at the ISEF in the Physics Category for their project spherical wheels – a new revolution. Spherical wheels are here to radicalize the world. They can be used in robotics, trolleys, tractors, forklifts and wheel chairs. Our spherical wheels work on the principle of a computer mouse. Each sphere is held in place by three rollers, two of which are powered. When the rollers rotate, the adjacent sphere rotates due to friction. The spherical wheel’s speed and direction is controlled by the individual speed of each roller. Through this, multidirectional motion can be achieved. Acceleration, kinetic energy and power of a sphere are greater than that of a cylinder hence a spherical wheel is more efficient.”

Rishin Behl, Mumbai

Rishin Behl, 18, from Kendriya Vidyalaya, Mumbai has won total 5 awards at ISEF. Second prize of $1500, first prize is $1000 & a trip to SEG International Exposition, second prize is a trip to China for a week to attend the 22nd China Adolescents Science and Technology Innovation Contest to be held in Kunning Yunan Province , third prize of $1,000 U.S. Savings Bond , full tuition scholarship awards by University of Mexico in individual category for Geophysics  for  his project ‘A Novel Design for Magnetic Levitating Seismograph’.

Aavishkar Patel, Bangalore

Aavishkar Patel, 17, from Kendriya Vidyalaya , Banglore at ISEF in Individual Category for his project ‘A Coupled Oscillator Model For Grover’s Quantum Database Search Algorithm’.

Grover’s database search algorithm is the optimal algorithm for identifying a desired object from an unsorted collection of items. Although it was discovered in the context of quantum computation, it is simple and versatile enough to be implemented using any physical system that allows superposition of states. Analysis was done of a mechanical realisation of the algorithm using coupled simple harmonic oscillators, and construct its physical model for the simplest case of 4 identical oscillators. The identification oracle is realised as elastic reflection of the specified oscillator, and the over relaxation operation is realised as evolution of the system by half an oscillation period. The sensitivity of the algorithm to changes in the initial conditions and damping was explored, both analytically and experimentally. The amplitude amplification provided by the algorithm enhances the probability of the desired object in the quantum case, while it enhances the energy of the desired oscillator in the mechanical case. The focusing of energy into a specific oscillator can have interesting applications in processes that need crossing of an energy threshold for completion. This mechanism may be useful in nanotechnological devices.

Intel is glad to provide a platform to such deserving students to display their skill and knowledge at the International level.

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