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Santa Cruz student named a top-30 finalist in national middle school STEM competition

A STEM student at Georgiana Bruce Kirby Preparatory School has been invited to Washington, D.C. to compete for more than $100,000 in awards.

Thirteen-year-old Rinoa Oliver is a top 30 finalist in the Broadcom Masters, which is a national middle school STEM competition. She will be in Washington, D.C, from Oct. 25 to 30.

Oliver’s project is on factors that affect the results of science and engineering fairs. The idea came after she went to an awards ceremony for California’s state science fair, and she noticed that several students came from higher-income counties. Based on that observation, Oliver started digging into decades of science fair data to see if students from privileged or highly rated schools are more likely to win, and other factors.

Oliver said her research confirmed her initial observations that winning projects tend to come from more privileged areas, and she found a growing gap between income levels for cities with the top three projects and income levels of cities for all other projects. She also found that a school’s history of winning in some categories was a good indicator that another project in the same category would place in the top four.

At the competition, Oliver will participate in team challenges and meet with government officials to showcase her project. Winners will be named during an awards ceremony on Oct. 29.

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