Sequim student scientist Katherine Landoni posed with her science fair project at the Broadcom MASTERS competition on Sept. 30. Landoni picked up a first place in the national competition, which took place in Washington, D.C. Photo by Joe and Pam Landoni.
Sequim’s Katherine Landoni is a winner in the 2011 Broadcom MASTERS competition, a national event that recognizes some of America’s most promising young scientists.
Landoni was selected as the winner in the engineering category of the STEM competition (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), with the honor awarded in part for her eighth-grade science project on the “Relation of Genetic Variation to Salinity Tolerance of New Zealand Mudsnails.”
Now a ninth-grader at Sequim High, Landoni was among the winners announced Oct. 5 by the Broadcom Foundation and the Society for Science & the Public, which together sponsored the 2011 Broadcom MASTERS competition for sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders. Landoni’s parents, Joe and Pam Landoni, accompanied her to Washington, D.C., for the four-day event.
The competition included interviews of each student about his or her science fair project. The interviews, conducted by judges qualified in the field of the student’s project, accounted for approximately 25 percent of the final score.
The rest of the competition was based on the performance of the student in activities designed to test organizational and problem-solving abilities.
Landoni was awarded a medal, a $125 Walmart gift card, a VIZIO Home Theatre System, an iPad2, $500, and had an asteroid named in her honor.
Landoni, who is already hard at work gathering data for a new project at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Sequim, said the organizers of the competition “left no stone unturned to make this an incredible experience for the kids.”
Prizes aside, Landoni said she was pleased to discover she has the ability to organize a team of two or more students, all of whom were natural leaders, by bringing new ideas to the table that were then implemented by the team.
Landoni said the event’s organizers focused on applied science, technology, engineering, and math. For example, she said, one of the challenges involved an inquiry into the density of an unknown solid substance.
Landoni felt a kinship with many of the other students, whom she described as high achievers with a curiosity for investigation and a passion for all things science. She was quick to rule out nerdiness, saying while her teammates were highly skilled and extraordinarily capable, they also exhibited strong social skills that were crucial in allowing them to communicate in an intellectually stimulating way to solve their challenges.
Landoni said she was sad to leave behind the new friends she had made, then added, “I can’t wait for the rest of my life to get going in science.”
The competition was conducted in the National Geographic’s Headquarters and Museum and at the Baltimore Science Museum and at the Palomar Hotel, near DuPont Circle in D.C. While there, Landoni met with the top aides of U.S. Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell. Though both senators happened to be in session, Landoni said she enjoyed visiting their offices and sharing her experiences about the Broadcom MASTERS competition.
The Broadcom Foundation offered more than $500,000 in prizes, awards and rebates to 6,000 middle school science fair student participants and their teachers and schools. Through a rigorous process of review and elimination, 30 finalists from 14 states and Puerto Rico were selected to compete in D.C.