Pranav Sivakumar, IMSA Sophomore, and Trisha Prabhu, IMSA TALENT Power Pitch competition winner, were two of only fifteen Global Finalists selected from the thousands of entrants to the 2014 Google Science Fair. Sivakumar, whose project uses quasars to study the future of the universe, and Prabhu, who is developing software that reduces teen cyberbullying, are in the final round of competition to receive category awards worth more than $100,000 in total.
“Having two students of our programs excel in a global competition shows the remarkable ability of these students to conduct original research, which IMSA is proud to support through its extension programs and residential academy,” said Catherine C. Veal, IMSA’s Sr. VP for Strategy and Policy. “Pranav and Trisha’s dedication to understanding our world and improving it is inspiring, and while recognition in a global contest is outstanding, I believe it’s just the beginning of what these students will accomplish.”
Pranav Sivakumar’s project, “Morphological Identification of Wide-Separation Gravitationally Lensed Quasars,” studies the ratio between dark matter and dark energy by observing quasars, which are bright objects that feed off of black holes. Through his research, Sivakumar hopes to get insight into the future of the universe, measuring whether it will continue to expand or begin to contract. In addition to his high-level research, the talented student from Barrington was the runner-up in the 2013 Scripps National Spelling Bee, a member of the 2013 National Academic Quiz Bowl championship team, and has written three science-fiction novels in his spare time.
Trisha Prabhu’s anti-bullying software, developed with guidance from the IMSA TALENT (Total Applied Learning for Entrepreneurs) program, was awarded first place and $3,000 by a panel of distinguished judges from the Chicago business and tech community at TALENT’s Power Pitch contest this year. Prabhu’s Google Science Fair project tested her hypothesis that software can deter teens from posting hateful messages on the internet by filtering these messages, then asking them to rethink their decision to post. The 14-year-old not only designed this software, but found that it in 93.43% of the cases teens decided to not post mean/hurtful messages after they had the opportunity to rethink their decision.
The Google Science Fair is an international, online science and technology competition where thousands of students post their science projects online, and Sivakumar and Prabhu were chosen out of only five students in their age category, seven Americans, and fifteen total students worldwide to make the finals. They will find out in late September if they won the Grand Prize, which includes $50,000 in scholarship funds and a trip to the Galapagos Islands, the Age Category Prize, which includes a $25,000 scholarship, and/or the Voter’s Choice Award, which carries with it a $10,000 grant for their project. The Grand Prize winner will also take home the Celebrate The School Prize, which comes with $10,000 and other prizes for their home school.