|Josh Meier wins fourth place in the Siemens contest. From left, the head judge, Professor Rachelle Heller of George Washington University; Siemens Corporation CEO Eric Spiegel; Siemens Foundation President Jennifer Harper-Taylor; Meier; College Board executive Diane Tsukamaki; George Washington Provost Steven Lerman, and Siemens Foundation CEO David Etzwiler. Siemens Foundation|
It was another trip to Washington – and another $40,000 for Josh Meier of Teaneck.
On December 10, the Bergen County Academies senior won a $40,000 third-place scholarship in the 15th annual Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology. On March 11, the same research on controlling the aging of pluripotent stem cells – which could lead to new treatments for cancer and age-related neurodegenerative diseases – won him a $40,000 fourth-place award at the Intel Science Talent Search, considered the nation’s most prestigious pre-college science and math competition.
Just as with Siemens, the Intel organizers were accommodating of Josh’s Sabbath and kashrut observance during the week-long competition process.
Yet the Intel experience was not entirely dÃ©jÃ vu, he said. “Intel was a talent search, so it was more about how you approach science than about the best project.” For two days, judges grilled each of the 40 finalists – chosen from 1,794 high school seniors representing 14 states – about their approach to science in general. Next, the contestants presented their projects to the public.
“We at Intel celebrate the work of these brilliant young scientists as a way to inspire the next generation to follow them with even greater energy and excitement into a life of invention and discovery,” said Wendy Hawkins, executive director of the Intel Foundation. “Imagine the new technologies, solutions and devices they will bring to bear on the challenges we face.”
By the time he spoke with the Jewish Standard, eight days after the contest, Josh already had another accomplishment under his belt: On March 15, he was chosen one of four finalists in the North Jersey Regional Science Fair, qualifying him for a free ticket to Los Angeles to compete in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in May.
“This one is more of a conventional science fair,” he said. And although he is presenting the same research topic, it is not repetitive for him. “I’m continuing to develop my project, so every time I go to a competition there are new elements to present,” he explained.
Where will he use the combined $80,000 of tax-free scholarship money? He’s not sure yet. He has gotten acceptances from Harvard and MIT, a “likely letter” (unofficial acceptance) from Yale, and expects to hear from Princeton after April 1.
Meanwhile, he spent two days in Israel for his grandmother’s 90th birthday, getting back to Teaneck just in time to prepare for yet another science fair on March 27-28, the Monmouth Junior Science Symposium. If he wins that, it could mean another $2,000 for his scholarship fund.