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October 21, 1999
Naveen Sinha Bags 2nd Prize at Discovery Contest
Naveen Sinha remembers feeling very calm during his presentation at the 1999 Discovery Young Scientist Challenge.
The cool confidence resulted in a big payoff. Sinha, 14, was the second prize winner of the contest held at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural Science, Washington DC, held from October 13 to 17.
The first prize, a $10,000 scholarship, went to Kevin Kuhn, 13, for his project, 'Is St John's wort safe for your heart?'
The 40 finalists were judged on their individual written and verbal communication skills and problem-solving abilities.
"I practiced a lot. I even practiced in front of my father," said Sinha, whose father Dipen Sinha 48, is a scientist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory and has won many accolades for his work.
Sinha, the 8th-grader at Los Alamos Middle School, New Mexico received a $5,000 scholarship and $50 gift certificate to spend at a Discovery store.
His project, 'The sound applications of interference' has an innovative concept, which can be used in many ways. It has a single sensor and can determine characteristics of contents inside tanks and reactor vessels, from outside. Most existing sensors have to be inside the tank and be in direct contact with the contents.
That makes his sensor safe compared to putting electronic sensors and electrical wires inside a tank of flammable liquid or gas.
Naveen has not decided which college to attend yet, but he is certain that he is going to be a scientist.
"I am very proud of him, always have been. I was not nervous at all. It did not matter to me whether he won or not... just being a finalist was an accomplishment enough," said his father.
But what did stand out in Dipen Sinha's mind were the compliments the judges gave Naveen.
"They told me it was practically impossible to separate the winners because they were so close to each other... and that all the judges tried hard to pin Naveen down during his oral presentation (questions and answers) but could not and that impressed them very much," the father said.
"This is a far more important thing to me than winning the award."
Naveen Sinha was attracted to science ever since he visited his father's laboratory on a 'Take your children to work day'. The 11-year-old was hooked to science thereafter.
Since then, he has won first place in physics in all his science fair competitions at the county, regional, and state level. The last two years, he also won the Junior Division Grand Prize at the State competition.
For one of the competitions, he developed a novel sensor that used sound waves to detect contamination in water. Another project dealt with a way to detect ice on airplane wings. He has also submitted a patent on it.
Then came the DYSC, a nationwide contest for middle school students (grades 5-8) designed to encourage the exploration of science among America's students. It is the only contest of its kind and the entrants were from 46 states.
"I had a lot of fun, made a lot of friends, learnt a lot and enjoyed myself," he said.
And next year he would like to compete in national challenges such as the International Science and Engineering Competition and the Intel Science Talent Search.
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