Girls Win All 5 Top Prizes in STEM Contest

The Broadcom MASTERS is a prestigious contest for middle schoolers.

Nov 26, 2019

Driving a car has just become a lot safer. That's because 14-year old Alaina Gassler from West Grove, Pennsylvania designed a system that uses a webcam to display road obstacles that are hidden from drivers because of blind spots.

The idea came to her when she was watching her mother struggling with blind spots while driving. This useful invention won Alaina the top Samueli Foundation prize of $25,000 in the 2019 Broadcom MASTERS (math, applied science, technology, and engineering for rising stars middle school competition.

This prestigious award inspires young students to aspire to study and have careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) according to a press release from the Society for Science & the Public.

But Alaina was not the only girl to shine in the competition. The five top spots were all won by girls.

“With so many challenges in our world, Alaina and her fellow Broadcom MASTERS finalists make me optimistic. I am proud to lead an organization that is inspiring so many young people, especially girls, to continue to innovate,” Maya Ajmera, President and CEO of the Society for Science & the Public and Publisher of Science News said in the press release.

The 30 finalists were chosen from 2,348 applicants that hailed from 47 US states by a panel of engineers and educators that are highly distinguished in their fields. These middle schoolers had to demonstrate 21st century skills including critical thinking. Creativity, communication, collaborative skills, and teamwork.

The other four top finalists were Rachel Bergey, 14, from Harleysville, Pennsylvania who won the $10,000 Lemelson Award for Invention by developing a trap to catch the spotted lanternfly; an invasive species that is damaging trees in Western Pennsylvania.

Sidor Clare, 14, from Sandy, Utah won the $10,000 Marconi/Samueli Award for Innovation by developing bricks that could be made on Mars for future building if man and womankind colonize the planet.

Alexis MacAvoy, 14, from Hillsborough, California won the $10,000 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Award for Health Advancement by developing a filter that uses carbon to remove heavy metals from water.

Lauren Ejiaga, 14, New Orleans, Louisiana won the $10,000 STEM Talent Award with research that focused on how ultraviolet light impacts plant growth and performance due to ozone depletion.

Hopefully these talented young women will inspire more girls to go into STEM careers. These fields have typically been dominated by men but this is changing.  After all, girls can do anything!

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BONNIE RIVA RAS, EDITOR & WRITER
Bonnie Riva Ras has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.