Participating in what is now known as the Intel Science Talent Search (STS) was “a life-enhancing, maybe even life-changing, experience for me,” says MIT theoretical physicist Frank Wilczek, a 1967 finalist and later Nobel Prize winner. “There is a big gap between the processes of learning and researching and the final process of deciding the project is done and sharing the results with the world. The STS gives people that experience early and paves the way for later success.”

The annual US competition is open to original, individual research projects across all areas of science, engineering, and math by students in their last year of high school. Each year, 40 finalists spend a week in Washington, DC. “Having this trip down to Washington and meeting very famous scientists and having the experience of success and bringing my dreams within sight was profound,” says Wilczek. “It gave me a lot of...

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