Joshua Cox, an eighth grader at Buckeye Valley Middle School, is one of the 30 finalists competing in Broadcom MASTERS, the nation’s premier Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) middle school competition.
Cox’s project — Lift Off! Finding Rockets Using Sound Waves — garnered him top national honors and is the sole competitor from Ohio in this year’s competition.
“I love space, from astrophysics to the Apollo missions,” Cox said. He also has an interest in his dad’s work as a sound engineer for Honda.
His love of space and his interest in his dad’s work got Cox thinking about how sounds can help locate objects. In his research, he noted that when submarines use sonar, for example, they bounce sound waves off things to figure out where underwater hazards might be. Cox decided to see if he could use the same science to figure out where a rocket launched from, based on its sound.
A similar approach could also help military bases protect themselves, he said. The project allowed him to experiment with microphones and decibel readings, and it also gave him the opportunity to shoot off model rockets.
Cox will present his research project and findings along with the other nationwide finalists at the virtual Broadcom MASTERS on Oct.16-21, where they will participate in a rigorous virtual competition that leverages project-based learning to test and demonstrate their mastery of 21st century skills of critical thinking, communication, creativity and collaboration in each of the STEM areas.
Broadcom MASTERS (Math, Applied Science, Technology and Engineering for Rising Stars), a program founded and produced by the Society for Science & the Public, seeks to inspire young scientists, engineers, and innovators who will solve the grand challenges of the future.
For the first time, the competition will take place virtually in order to keep the finalists and their families safe during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Each of the 30 finalists will participate in online team challenges in addition to being judged on their science research project.
Broadcom MASTERS finalists were selected by a panel of distinguished scientists and engineers from 3,476 applicants in 42 states and Puerto Rico. Finalist projects cover multiple disciplines of science, including environmental and earth science, electrical and mechanical engineering, microbiology, physics, bioengineering, computer science, software engineering, behavioral and social sciences, energy and sustainability, animal science, chemistry and plant science. The finalists’ projects focus on a variety of topics, including:
● Using machine learning to predict the growth of wildfires and COVID-19
● Quantifying gerrymandering and creating an algorithm to create fair political districts
● Using artificial intelligence to sort recycling
● Determining if turmeric is contaminated with lead chromate
● Using artificial intelligence to predict diabetic eye diseases
“This year’s 30 Broadcom MASTERS finalists represent young scientists and engineers from every region of the U.S. Along with thousands of students who competed in the 2020 Broadcom MASTERS, they persevered in the face of many complex challenges brought on by the worldwide pandemic. To their credit, they stayed engaged in STEM in order to pursue their dreams and ambitions,” said Paula Golden, president of the Broadcom Foundation.
“During these unprecedented times we are living in, science is more important than ever,” said Maya Ajmera, president and CEO of the Society for Science & the Public and publisher of Science News. “These 30 finalists are scientific and engineering trailblazers. Our future is in good hands.”
Science certainly seems to be in Cox’s future. When asked about future career interests, Cox expressed that he hopes to become an astrophysicist.
“I love astrophysics, astronomy, space science, physics and math,” he said.
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