‘Inspiration Is Everywhere’: IMSA 15-Year-Old Wins Google Science Fair
Pranav Sivakumar, a junior from the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, recently competed in the Google Science Fair, an online competition among teens. Not only did Sivakumar compete, he won the Virgin Galactic Pioneer Award and was one of 20 internationally recognized finalists. And, not only did he win, President Obama noted Sivakumar’s work during the White House Astronomy Night in October 2015.
According to a press release from Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, Sivakumar has been attending Saturday Morning Physics and Ask-a-Scientist since fourth grade with his parents. Sivakumar told Fermilab folks that he admired the effort and enthusiasm of the scientists.
“Fermilab has motived me and focused me in the direction I wanted to go,” he said.
So what was the project that won him his Virgin Galactic Pioneer Award?
“(He) developed algorithms to identify gravitationally lensed quasar candidates from data taken by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. The algorithms help determine if two or more images of light are from a single lensed quasar or multiple quasars,” the Fermilab press release said. “Two mentors made this project possible, Fermilab scientists Brian Nord and Chris Stoughton.”
Sivakumar was profiled on the Google for Education website back in August 2015, and he had some advice for aspiring young scientists.
“I learned from experience that starting small and building up to complex questions works best for young scientists. Feel confident about connecting with professionals – initially, it may be scary, but their willingness to help and their mentorship are worth much more than those few moments of anxiety,” he said. “When I ran into a technical roadblock, I contacted the primary researcher on the SQLS team in Japan; within 24 hours, he responded with valuable suggestions that I’m still pursuing to this day.”
SOURCE: Fermilab press release, Kane County Regional Office of Education