Girls Take Home All Five Top Awards in National STEM Contest for Middle Schoolers

For the first time ever in Broadcom Masters' history, only girls won the prizes.

At a U.S. national science and engineering competition for middle schoolers, all five top prizes were awarded to girls for the first time ever this year. 

The competition known as the Broadcom MASTERS, or Math, Applied Science, Technology, and Engineering for Rising Stars, takes place every year. It's run by the Society for Science & the Public along with the Broadcom Foundation. 

The awards were presented in Washington D.C. on October 29th.

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Who were the girls, and why did they win?

Selected out of 30 finalists from a pool of 2,348 entrants from 47 states, the five girls' creations beat the odds.

Maya Ajmera, president and CEO of the Society for Science & the Public told ABC News that, "We are just so thrilled that the top five winners were girls this year," Ajmera said. "This is the first time in our history that it was a sweep for girls. It’s also the first time in our history that we had more girl finalists than boy finalists."

Alaina Gassler, 14 years old and from Pennsylvania, won the top award: the Samueli Foundation Prize. She brought home the title and $25,000 for her project on reducing blind spots while driving

Gassler gained her inspiration from observing her mother while driving. Her mother was so frustrated by these dangerous blind spots that Gassler looked up how many accidents occur each year due to blind spots, and decided to do something about it. 

She designed a system that uses a webcam to display anything that's in a driver's blind spot.

Girls Take Home All Five Top Awards in National STEM Contest for Middle Schoolers
Alaina Gassler, Source: Society for Science & the Public

The other four top winners were all 14-year-olds; Rachel Bergey also from Pennsylvania, Sidor Clare from Utah, Alexis MacAvoy from California, and Lauren Ejiaga from Louisiana.

Ejiaga won the $10,000 STEM Talent Award for her research on how our current levels of ultraviolet light from the sun due to ozone depletion affect plant growth and performance. 

Girls Take Home All Five Top Awards in National STEM Contest for Middle Schoolers
Lauren Ejiaga, Source: Society for Science & the Public

MacAvoy was awarded the $10,000 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Award for Health Advancement for her water filter design. 

Girls Take Home All Five Top Awards in National STEM Contest for Middle Schoolers
Alexis MacAvoy, Source: Society for Science & the Public

Clare won the $10,000 Marconi/Samueli Award for Innovation for developing a brick that can be made on Mars. 

Girls Take Home All Five Top Awards in National STEM Contest for Middle Schoolers
Sidor Clare, Source: Society for Science & the Public

And last but not least, Bergey won the $10,000 Lemelson Award for her design and creation of a trap made from tinfoil to catch the invasive Spotted Lanternflies.

Girls Take Home All Five Top Awards in National STEM Contest for Middle Schoolers
Rachel Bergey, Source: Society for Science & the Public

These awards showcase what young minds can create and innovatively design, hopefully opening up future paths in science and engineering for them.

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