Gabriella Lui of Newport High School recently won the first place award technology award at the Broadcom MASTERS, the nation’s premier STEM competition, on Oct. 23.
As previously reported, Lui was selected to be one of the top 30 finalists for the competition for her project that uses radio frequency identification (RFID) to enhance school safety.
The project works to track students’ locations in the case of a school emergency such as a natural disaster or a school shooting. The system would allow school officials and first responders to quickly find and treat students in such circumstances.
The Broadcom MASTERS encourages middle school students to translate their personal interests into a passion for STEM by participation in science fairs — the aim is to inspire them to continue their studies throughout high school and college and enter STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) careers.
Lui and 29 other finalists traveled to Washington, D.C. Oct. 19-23 and participated in competition leveraging project-based learning to test and demonstrate mastery of 21st century skills of critical thinking, communication, creativity and collaboration in each of the STEM areas.
Lui said her experience as a Broadcom MASTERS finalist was “truly invaluable.”
“Although these activities were supposed to be part of a competition, I had so much fun that I totally forgot that we were actually ‘competing’ against each other,” she said. “Although my Broadcom MASTERS journey started out as a required school assignment science fair project; an A on my transcript is nothing compared to this opportunity for me to cultivate my passion and interest in STEM. Broadcom MASTERS taught me that the true essence of science is learning, sharing and working with others. I’m really grateful for the honor, awards and certificates that come with being a Broadcom MASTERS alumni. However, the once in a lifetime experiences I gained, the things I learned, and the friendships I’ve made this past week are invaluable.”
In addition to being judged on their projects, the 30 finalists competed in hands-on challenges that tested their abilities in STEM, critical thinking, communication, creativity and collaboration. Challenges included designing a new type of shark tag; designing, coding and building a functional program using Raspberry Pi and Sense Hat; and determining how long it would take a zombie pathogen to infect the world’s population.
Lui said she was shocked to learn she had won the first place technology award because she was among such intelligent and passionate peers.
“I was prepared not to receive any awards due to how smart everybody else was, so I was in a complete stage of shock and immense happiness when the emcee announced that I had won the first place technology award,” she said. “My friends and fellow finalists were all so excited and cheering me on, and it was such a great feeling and honor to win first place award in technology.”
With the first place technology award, Lui received $3,500 to her choice of a STEM summer camp experience in the U.S. and an iPad.
She said she wants to encourage more people to join STEM and explore different things based on their interest.
“When I first started my project, I wasn’t even sure if I had the ability to prove my hypothesis, let alone to engineer a complete safety system. But I continued working on it because I thought it was fun and I enjoyed it,” she said. “This project was able to bring me from my school fair to first prize technology award at the 2018 Broadcom MASTERS competition simply because I tried my best to make a positive impact helping people and I was doing what I love.”