Teen receives $100,000 science scholarship from Intel

17-year-old Mary Masterman, a senior at Westmoore High School in Oklahoma City, won the Intel Science Talent Search and received a $100,000 scholarship for building an inexpensive yet accurate spectrograph that identifies the "fingerprints" of different molecules. More than 1,700 high school seniors across the nation entered the contest, which is in its 66th year. Spectrographs measure wave lengths and can be used in research such as astronomy, medicine or in industry. For example, they can be used as a sensing device to look for explosives or drugs or to help determine how old an art work is through its pigments. They can cost as much as $100,000, but Masterman's invention - made of lenses, a laser, aluminum tubing and a camera - cost less than $1,000, Intel said.

Masterman received the honor from Intel's Chairman Craig Barrett during a banquet Tuesday night in Washington. "It was a complete surprise. I wasn't expecting it, " Masterman said. The teenaged girl said she has been interested in science "ever since I was little. I can't remember ever not being interested." She credits her parents with encouraging her. She said she has not decided where she will attend college but would eventually like to become a physicist or chemist. The 40 finalists spent the last week in Washington, where they exhibited their projects at the National Institute of Science and met government officials including Vice President Dick Cheney and U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings. Among the former winners of the competition's top award are six Nobel Laureates, three National Medal of Science winners, 10 MacArthur Foundation Fellows and two Fields Medalists.

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News source: CNN

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10 Comments

Here's the question: why give a $100,000 scholarship to someone who will probably get a full scholarship from a top-notch school? If she can build something like this in her basement, she'll go to the school of her choice.

Good for her and it's incredible what she did, but I would think giving her the recognition and a smaller scholarship would be better. They could give her a token $25,000 and then give out a number of smaller ones to people that won't get the opportunity she will undoubtedly have waiting for her.

t_r_nelson said,
Here's the question: why give a $100,000 scholarship to someone who will probably get a full scholarship from a top-notch school? If she can build something like this in her basement, she'll go to the school of her choice.

Good for her and it's incredible what she did, but I would think giving her the recognition and a smaller scholarship would be better. They could give her a token $25,000 and then give out a number of smaller ones to people that won't get the opportunity she will undoubtedly have waiting for her.

i agree... a $100k scholarship is nice and all, but if a 17 year old girl can build something for $1000 out of stuff you have in a junk drawer, where it takes a team of scientists and $100,000 to build the same thing, i don't think any school would make her pay to go there.......

they'd almost pay her to come to their school!

$100k just opens her options up even more for her school of choice. It may also be applied for her housing while she is at school You can get scholarships to do a lot more for you than pay your tuition. In most cases these types of grants can go towards living expenses while you are attending school if there is money left over after tuition.

She may also want to pursue her masters or phd.

This is Intel we're talking about, there were probably runner up prizes. Plus, all because she made this doesn't necessarily mean she's going where she wants to. She could be very bright but in a not so hot situation. This scholarship will set her future in motion.

impressive.... a 1000dollars device which normally costs 100k to do pretty much the same stuff.

but it's like buttus said... "a 17 year old girl can build something for $1000 out of stuff you have in a junk drawer, where it takes a team of scientists and $100,000 to build the same thing, i don't think any school would make her pay to go there.......

they'd almost pay her to come to their school!"

that pretty much sums it up ... but than again if someone was going to give me 100k i dont think i would be complaining

A 1000$ experiment sounds expensive for something that has a high potential of giving her 0$ return. I'm kind of wondering how special this spectrograph is, the ones I used in school looks like they costed in the hundreds, $1,000 tops, no way they paid as much as the article says they did. But they're probably of different quality.

Enrickey said,
...the ones I used in school looks like they costed in the hundreds, $1,000 tops, no way they paid as much as the article says they did. But they're probably of different quality.

Hers includes a Kitchenaid stand mixer, three mouse traps, some paperclips, an empty coconut shell, vintage linoleum, twelve pingpong balls, ric rac, kite string, pieces of a broken banjo, gold glitter, a pair of knee socks, bubble gum, Wet (for moving parts), the gas engine from a weedwhacker, a Glade Plug-In, a pair of angry chipmunks f---ed-up on angel dust, assorted mirrors, some tubing, and a laser. It's far more sophisticated than the crappy Wal-Mart spectographs we used in college.

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