A Buchholz High School senior was selected to compete for a prestigious national science award.
Sidhika Balachandar is one of the top forty finalists in the Regeneron Science Talent Search, the nations’ oldest and perhaps most prestigious science and math competition for high school seniors.
She is preparing her project before she reveals it to the judges in early March. The first place title and $250,000 are on the line. She’s already won $25,000 so far.
The project is called Picoscale Mechanics of Atomically Engineered Materials and focuses on superconductors.
Superconductors are materials that conduct electricity with no resistance, Balachandar said. In very simplistic terms, she is studying the properties of superconductors, including the way they respond to temperature extremes and other strains.
Her goal is to save energy by reducing any waste of electricity as it moves through the superconductors. Balachandar said she is honored to advance in the renowned competition.
“I’m definitely much more excited than I am nervous,” Balachandar said. “I think more than the competition itself, while that is a great prestige, getting qualified as one of the top 40 is really a huge accomplishment for myself.”
Balachandar is the second Alachua County Public School student in three years to be named one of the 40 finalists in the talent search, according to an ACPS news release.
Beverly Ge, who was also a Buchholz High School student, was a 2016 finalist in the program, which was then known as the Intel Science Talent Search.
Balachandar has plenty of experience in high-level academics. She’s been successful competing in science fairs since middle school.
Earlier this school year she was named one of 300 semi-finalist in the national Siemens Competition, another prestigious math, science and technology contest for high school students. She’s taken many high-level math and science courses throughout her high school career, including a linear algebra course she’s currently taking at the University of Florida, the release said.
Will Frazer, a math teacher at BHS, said Balachandar deserves to be in this competition.
“Sidhika does not want to just know that something works, she wants to know why and how. She always wants to go further,” Frazer said.
Frazer is also the coach of the Buchholz math team, which Balachandar is currently a member of. The math team has won numerous national championships.
Balachandar started working on this project during her time spent at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology this past summer. She was one of 80 students selected to participate in MIT’s Research Science Institute. Balachandar said she made friends in Boston who also qualified for the Regeneron STS competition. She said she can’t wait to see those nine friends again in D.C.
Balachandar will display her projects to judges and members of Congress next month.