Science Stars Shine at Orlando Science Center

Presenting the 15th Annual Dr. Nelson Ying Science Competition Celebrating the Exemplary Achievements of Local Science Students
Friday, April 26–Sunday, April 28

ORLANDO, Fla. (April 23, 2013)—Since 1999, Dr. Nelson Ying—local scientist, entrepreneur and philanthropist—has partnered with Orlando Science Center to celebrate the exemplary achievements of local science students. From April 26–28, five finalists from area high schools will compete for the coveted “Ying Prize” during the Dr. Nelson Ying Science Competition. The Grand Prize winner also receives a $5,000 scholarship, a $1,000 award for the student’s science teacher or mentor and another $1,000 for the winner’s school.

To compete in the Ying Competition, each entrant must perform a research project that has the ultimate goal of benefiting humanity. Previous entries have investigated treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, faster delivery of mechanisms for medicine and solutions for beach erosion, just to name a few. Project reports are submitted and reviewed by a distinguished panel of judges including current and retired engineers, scientists, educators, and Dr. Ying, himself.

Five finalists are selected each year to present their findings before the judges’ panel. This year, the project topics range from computer science to environmental sciences and reflect Central Florida’s role as an emerging leader in the science and technology industry. Finalists include winners of previous science fair competitions at the county and state level. They include:

  • Sarah Van Sickle of Brevard County’s Satellite Beach High School. Sarah Van Sickle is a senior at Satellite High School in Satellite Beach, Fla. Sarah’s recent accomplishments include: First Place Senior Physics Florida State Science Fair, 2013 Senior Physical Best in Show, Brevard Intracoastal Regional Science & Engineering Fair, and 2013 First Place Physics Brevard Intracoastal Regional Science & Engineering Fair. Sarah will also be competing in the International Science and Engineering Fair in Phoenix this May.

  • Zachary Loeb of Brevard County’s Viera High School. Zachary Loeb is a junior enrolled in the business academy program at Viera High School in Melbourne, Fla. Zachary has a strong interest in marine biology, green chemistry and finding solutions to prevent and eliminate pollutants that contaminate the environment. For the past four years, Zachary has conducted research on endocrine disrupting compounds (EDC’s) and their effects on the aquatic environment.

  • Nirva Vassa of Seminole County’s Seminole High School. Nirva Vassa is a freshman at Seminole High School in Sanford, Fla. and is currently enrolled in the international baccalaureate program. She has been involved in science research competitions since sixth grade and has received first place awards in several science competitions including Seminole County Science and Engineering Fair, Orlando Science Challenge, and State Science and Engineering Fair of Florida. Nirva will also be competing in the International Science and Engineering Fair in Phoenix this May.

  • Divya Ravinder of Polk County’s Bartow High School. Divya Ravinder is a freshman at Bartow High School in Bartow, Fla. Since sixth grade, Divya has competed in and has placed first in several science competitions including eCYBERMISSION, Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge, Disney Planet Challenge, Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge, Polk County Regional Science and Engineering Fair, Orlando Science Fair, and State Science and Engineering Fair.

  • Rikhav Shah of Orange County’s Lake Highland Preparatory School. Rikhav Shah attends Lake Highland Preparatory School in Orlando, Fla. Rikhav competes in science and debate competitions around the country. Rikhav placed in the 2012 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Pittsburgh, Pa., and this past February, he won first place and Best in Show at the 2013 Dr. Nelson Ying Orange County Science Exposition.

On Friday, April 26 the finalists will tour Minute Maid Laboratories and UCF’s Institute of Simulation and Training. Saturday, April 27 the finalists will meet at Orlando Science Center to explain to the judges’ panel how their research helps humanity, then experience a behind-the-scenes tour. On Sunday, April 28 the event will culminate in an announcement of the Grand Prize winner at an awards luncheon at Fulton’s Crab House at Downtown Disney.

For more information on the Dr. Ying Science Competition, please visit or call 407-514-2000.


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777 E. Princeton Street • Orlando, Florida 32803 • Phone: 407.514.2000 • TTY: 407.514.2005 • Toll Free: 888.OSC.4FUN • Email:
  Orlando Science Center is supported by United Arts of Central Florida, host of and the collaborative Campaign for the Arts.
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