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Gainesville Middle School Student’s Ingenuity Gets State’s Attention

Balachandar presenting her project at Broadcom.
Balachandar presenting her project at Broadcom.

Abraham Lincoln Middle School student Sidhika Balachandar won second place in the engineering category of the Broadcom Masters National Science competition.

Balachandar’s seventh grade science project, “Can You Keep It Down,” placed first in its division at the Alachua County Regional Science and Engineering Fair and second in the state competition.

Her project, which compared soundproofing and aesthetic qualities of various materials, had a unique yet practical inspiration.

“I play the flute and so whenever I do these activities my mom gets disturbed, so I wanted to know if I could soundproof my room so it could help her while she’s working,” Balachandar said.

Balachandar tested materials such as roofing tile and tapestry by placing speakers in a box and measuring the amount of sound that was absorbed.

Balachandar beat 6,000 students to become a finalist in the Broadcom Masters National Science competition. The competition highlights middle school students’ projects and problem-solving skills.

Balachandar’s success qualified her for an all-expenses paid trip to Washington, D.C. to compete with other finalists for more than $60,000 worth of prizes in science, technology, engineering and math categories.

Her prizes for second place were a $2,500 scholarship and an iPad. She plans to use the scholarship to attend science camp.

Balachandar said her love for science was partially inspired by her parents. Her mother is a computer scientist and her father is a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the University of Florida. 

“My parents and my friends have been really supportive each step of the way and I’m really thankful for them to be there,” Balachandar said. “I’m excited because I feel a lot more women are getting into the STEM fields, and if I do that, then I can help encourage more women to do that as well.”

Fueled by her goal to inspire, Balachandar is already planning for the future. She is enrolled in Lincoln’s advanced LYCEUM program and is taking a high school chemistry course.

River Grace of Melbourne, Fla. won first place overall and a $25,000 scholarship for his study on endangered tortoises.

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