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International Science and Engineering Fair

LOS ANGELES – May 31, 2024 –

Fifteen Iowa youth scientists and engineers have returned from the prestigious International Science and Engineering Fair held May 11-17 in Los Angeles. This annual event, the world's largest international pre-college science competition, brought together over 1,700 high school students from more than 65 countries to present their groundbreaking research and innovations.

Representing Iowa were 15 exceptional students who earned their spots through rigorous regional and state science fair competitions. Youth finalists were Benjamin Lothamer, Mid Prairie Homeschool Assistance Program; Ishita Mukadam and Antariksha Sharma, both of Maharishi Schools; Taylor Ommen, West Central Valley; Hannah Woudstra, Sioux Center High School; Winston Fan, Shanza Sami, Sabrina Du, Anjali Lodh and Amal Eltayib, all of Iowa City West High School; Valerie Rahe, Beckman Catholic High School; Allison Gruntmeir, Central Lee High School; Ritvik Gupta, Johnston High School; and Ananya Balaji and Avyay Balaji, both of Ames High School.

Their projects covered a wide array of disciplines, including environmental science, plant science, translational medicine, cellular and molecular biology, and biomedical engineering, showcasing the depth and diversity of scientific inquiry within the state.

The top winners were honored during two award ceremonies: the Special Awards on May 16 and the Grand Awards Ceremony on the morning of May 17. Over $9 million in total was awarded to the finalists based on their projects' creativity, innovation and depth of scientific inquiry.

In addition to youth finalists, Iowa sent seven youth observers to experience ISEF. They are considered “rising stars” to help motivate them to return as finalists. The Eastern Iowa Science and Engineering Fair selects the top middle school project winners, and the Western Iowa Science and Engineering Fair selects the top ninth-grade project winners to receive trips to ISEF. The observers take part in all activities except judging. While finalists are getting judged, observers engage in a program that teaches them more about elite research. They also help the Society for Science with their outreach program.

Youth observers were Caedon Newton and Drake Newton, both of Central Lee Middle School; Abby Lampe and Riley Schechinger, both of Algona High School; and Annabelle Zahradnik, Allison Knipper and Andrea Schneider, all of Beckman Catholic High School.

"We are incredibly proud of our students' achievements at ISEF," said Alexa Groff, director of the Iowa State Science and Technology Fair and 4-H STEM specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. "Their dedication, creativity and passion for STEM are truly inspiring. Witnessing youth worldwide come together to celebrate science, technology, engineering and math is incredible. These young innovators represent not only their communities and our state but also the world, embodying the bright future of scientific discovery and technological advancement."



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