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. Among the four finalists in this year’s Dr. Nelson Ying Science Competition, two projects so impressed the judges that these students—Calista Foo and Samuel Baker—were both named Grand Prize Winners at an awards ceremony April 22.
Each Grand Prize Winner has received a $5,000 scholarship, a $1,000 award for his/her chosen science teacher or mentor, and an additional $1,000 for his/her school.
To compete in the Dr. Nelson Ying Science Competition, each entrant must perform a research project that has the ultimate goal of benefiting humanity. Projects are presented to a distinguished panel of judges including current and retired engineers, scientists, educators, and Dr. Ying himself.
2018 Winners & Finalists
Calista Foo is a senior at West Shore Jr./Sr. High School. For her project, she researched bioceramic alternatives and enhancements with the goal of healing weak or broken bones. Calista also won 1st place in her division at the Brevard County science fair this year. She will be attending Cornell University in the fall.
Samuel Baker attends Crooms Academy of Information Technology in Sanford. For his project, he produced more efficient supercapacitors from activated carbon derived from compost. Sam and his science partner also won 1st place in their division in the Seminole County Science Fair this year. They also won Best of Fair in the Orlando Science Center’s Science Challenge.
The other finalists in this year’s competition, who each received a $1,000 scholarship, were: Emma Hall, who researched microplastics in the Indian River Lagoon; and Sydney Sinclair, who experimented with creating quieter propellers to reduce aquatic noise pollution. Emma and Sydney both attend Edgewood Jr./Sr. High School in Brevard County.
History of the Ying Competition
Dr. Nelson Ying is a longtime supporter of Orlando Science Center. In 1997, after sponsoring numerous exhibits and serving on the board, he decided to try something new.
“I wanted to do something that can match the OSC mission, that can provide lasting benefit toward STEM education, and that is different from what OSC or other science centers have done,” Dr. Ying said.
He and Fred Curtis, also a generous supporter of OSC, started the Ying Competition in 1998 with that goal in mind. Dr. Ying hopes to inspire young people to become good role models and successful world-changers with their passion for science and learning.
“The idea here is for us at OSC to identify science competition winners, create Stars, and make role models for the younger students,” Dr. Ying said. “In order to elevate the winners to Star level, we need to give them a decent prize. No more $100 and a blue ribbon – so how about $5,000?”
Dr. Ying also sponsors the Dr. Nelson Ying Orange County Science Exposition; the Dr. Nelson Ying Tri-Region Science and Engineering Fair in New York; and the Grand Awards at the Florida Science and Engineering Fair.
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