Na­tional sci­ence com­pe­ti­tion win­ners agree tech­nol­ogy is tak­ing over

The Washington Times Daily - - NATION - BY SARAH NEL­SON

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.

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