The South Pasadena Middle School student who took home the top prize in the Los Angeles County Science Fair is headed to a prestigious national science competition in Washington, D.C. In April, Raymond Gilmartin used a homemade wind tunnel, model car and thread pulley system to test whether adding rear spoilers to sport utility vehicles could safely improve fuel efficiency. A small spoiler angled toward the ground reduced wind drag without undermining road stability, he found.
The project dazzled county judges and caught the attention of the Broadcom Foundation, which invited Gilmartin to compete in the nation’s top science fair for middle school students.
The Broadcom Masters competition, which starts Sept. 28, features a top prize of $25,000 and is sponsored by the Irvine-based Broadcom Corp., a Fortune 500 technology firm. Gilmartin was one of only 30 students in the nation invited to compete.
“It’s really exciting,” said Gilmartin, who turned 14 over the summer and recently entered ninth grade at South Pasadena High School. “It’s sort of like a reward just being picked.”
Emily Hoffman, the middle school’s science department chair, said Gilmartin’s success has inspired other students.
“This is the Olympics of science fairs,” she said. “It shows not just Raymond but other kids that the work we do in school has more implications than just the grade they get here.”
Whatever happens in Washington, “I’ve learned a lot from going to science fairs,” said Gilmartin, who also won a medal at the California State Science Fair in May. “When the judges ask you a question, you have to be prepared, or if you aren’t, then you have to think of something really quick.”Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times