National science competition winners agree technology is taking over
Milan Haiman, a 16-year-old high schooler from New York City, says there’s no reason to fear the robot/computer takeover.
“Computers are replacing humans,” he says. “Yet computer science opens up new possibilities for everyone.”
But Milan says not all jobs will be replaced by technology: The world will need humans to engineer and repair robots in the future. And those humans will need STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) education, he adds.
Milan is one of four sophomores from Stuyvesant High School to win first place in this year’s Toshiba/National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) Explora-Vision science competition in the grade 10-12 category. The eight winning teams of the competition are invited to Washington, D.C., each year to present their work on Capitol Hill at a STEM Education Science Fair.
For their winning project, Milan and his group used carbon nanospheres — minute balls of carbon known for their absorbive qualities — to improve the efficiency of quantum computers, which store their data amid the various quantum states of subatomic particles. Milan and his teammates said their project illustrates the rate by which science and technology are taking over.
“It’s such an emerging field,” said teammate Taaseen Ali. “Quantum represents the whole future.”
Mark Winter, another member of Milan’s team, shares the sentiment.
“Moore’s Law says that every two years, computer capacity doubles,” he said, referring to the 1965 observation of Intel Corp. co-founder Gordon Moore. “That reflects how hungry we are for computer science.”
Stuyvesant chemistry teacher Gabriel Ting, the group’s coach, did not say whether he agreed that technology is taking over much of society, but advocated for STEM education. Even if students do not pursue employment in the sciences, any job requires at least some aspects of STEM, he said.
“You’re going to use some math and science. It increases efficiency,” Mr. Ting said. “And in careers such as business, it’s all about efficiency.”
NSTA President David Crowthers said STEM education is important now more than ever as his organization celebrates the national competition’s 25th anniversary.
“We’re fostering that innovation and training kids to think in a way we haven’t figured out yet,” Mr. Crowthers said. “Jobs that are going to exist tomorrow don’t exist today.”
The NSTA is based in Arlington, Virginia, and partners with the Toshiba technology firm for financial support of the competition. Members of the four first-place teams each receive a U.S. Series EE savings bond — a bond with a fixed rate for 30 years — worth $10,000 at maturity. Second-place winners receive a $5,000 U.S. Series EE savings bond at maturity
Eddie Temistokle, Toshiba’s senior manager of corporate communications, said the workforce needs STEM education in order for society to remain competitive.
He said he has seen the final projects students present in Washington, D.C., become similar products for companies such as LG Electronics and Samsung.
“STEM matters,” Mr. Temistokle said. “We’re proud to support science education.”
Milan hopes his remaining years in high school will further his knowledge and lead to a career in math or computer science.
For he and his peers, STEM is the future and a way for everyone to deepen their understanding about the rapidly changing world.