Childhood friends and Manhasset High School seniors Kimberly Te and Christine Yoo were selected as finalists Monday in the Siemen’s Competition in Math, Science & Technology.
Both just 17 years old, Te and Yoo will be heading to Washington D.C. from Dec. 4 to Dec. 8 to compete against five other student teams in the finals of the competition at George Washington University for a chance to win $100,000 in scholarship money.
“[We’re] really excited,” Te said. “We’re so honored to be able to be picked.”
Their project is a device that is able to produce clean energy and clean up oil spills simultaneously, Yoo said. The project also used naturally sustainable sources instead of commercial materials.
Te said the device has a “cost effective design” and is a “profitable and non-invasive method for cleaning up oil spill pollution.”
Te and Yoo heard they were selected as finalists in the competition while watching a video released by Siemen’s at noon yesterday during their senior science research class.
“I was so anxious the entire the morning yesterday,” Yoo said. “I was sick to my stomach.”
When a picture of her and Kimberly appeared in the video, Yoo said she starting jumping, screaming and went to hug Te.
“I didn’t really believe that was us,” Te said.
Last Saturday, Te and Yoo presented their project to a panel of judges from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh by teleconference from the high school.
“The creativity of the concept and its potential impact was most impressive,” said competition judge Shawn Litster, Associate Professor and the Russell V. Trader Faculty Fellow in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University.
Yoo said she and Te have been friends since they were in first grade and they both have taken many of the same classes over the years.
They both even participated in an eighth grade science research honors program optional class together which took place on Saturday mornings at 9 a.m.
By combining their mutual interest in fighting against environmental pollution, Te said she and Yoo were able to create their project.
“It’s been so much fun having a close friend as a partner,” Te said. “We have fun and at the same time we know how to cheer each other up. We had fun together as friends working on the project.”
Alison Huenger, research director and a research teacher at the high school, and Peter Guastella,a former research director, have been helping Te and Yoo with their project.
“[The] teachers were amazing,” Te said. “[They have been] very encouraging [during] the project.”
Te and Yoo have already won $6,000 for making it this far in the competition.
This is also not the first time Te and Yoo have been selected as finalists for prestigious competition.
Last May, they were selected to compete as finalists in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Pennsylvania.
The Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, Te said, is the largest pre-collegiate research competition in the world.
Despite having experience in other similar competitions, Yoo said she is honored to be able to present as a finalist in the Siemen’s Competition.
“All the hard work did pay off,” she said. “I’m so happy we made this far.”