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Student First: FUSD Students Place in Top 300 for National Science and Engineering Competition
Posted 10/7/22

showcase grid photo of students and broadcom masters logo

Three Fremont Unified School District students placed in the top 300 competitors in the 2022 Broadcom MASTERS, a national STEM competition for middle school students. 

Mihika Deshpande, Hamsini Vegi and Nandini Verma were selected for this distinction after earning Middle School 1st Place Awards in the 2022 Alameda County Science and Engineering Virtual Fair

The Top 300 Broadcom MASTERS are selected annually amongst students who qualify through taking a top prize in their regional and/or state science fair. In March 2022, students representing 10 Fremont Unified School District schools received awards at the county level, see our story from April with more details

“These students’ achievements are impressive, and their curiosity, creativity and dedication are the values we strive to support each student to develop in FUSD. This national recognition is a well-deserved acknowledgment of the outstanding work done by Hamsini, Mihika and Nandini, and of the support their loved ones and exceptional educators have provided to help them reach such high levels of academic excellence,” said FUSD Superintendent CJ Cammack. 

Hamsini Vegi

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Hamsini Vegi is in 7th grade at Hopkins Junior High

Hamsini Vegi is currently in 7th grade at Hopkins Junior High, and completed her project, Fun Exercise Glove, while at Mission San Jose Elementary School. 

“When I was younger, I had a friend who broke her wrist,” said Vegi. “I saw how she was nervous about doing the exercise and she didn’t want to do it that much because it was boring, and so I got the idea then.”

The idea: a glove that makes exercising for wrist injury rehabilitation more fun by lighting up and showing a victory sign when the user does well. The glove also scores exercise to give positive feedback and incentivize usage. 

Being named to the Top 300 was confirmation for Vegi that her work had potential to make a difference in the lives of others. 

“Now I know that I can do something to actually impact the world,” said Vegi. 

She’s still thinking about what her next project might be, but she plans to continue competing in science and engineering fairs, and to eventually study computer science and apply those skills to problems out in the world. 

“I’m looking for a problem I want to solve. It doesn’t have to be medical, it could even be an environmental problem, but I want to solve something to help the world.”

Mihika Deshpande

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Mihika Deshpande is in 9th grade at Irvington High School

Mihika Deshpande is currently in 9th grade at Irvington High School, and completed her project, Identifying Factors and Beliefs Correlated With Vaccine Hesitancy Using Machine Learning, while a student at Horner Middle School. 

“The whole idea of the project was to analyze vaccine hesitancy more, and figure out what factors contributed to it the most and how we can best address it,” said Deshpande, who used a data set from a Canadian survey that collected demographic information, opinions on vaccines, and hesitancy to take a COVID-19 vaccine. 

“Using that information, I trained a model to recognize patterns between what people think and whether they’re hesitant. So just given the information on what they think, the model will be able to predict whether they were hesitant.”

The model can have multiple applications beyond COVID-19 vaccinations, and support the development and targeting of messaging and information that addresses individuals’ needs based on fairly basic survey responses. 

Deshpande is working on a couple of projects, including one on how to solve for algorithmic bias. She, like Vegi, noted that computer science can apply across many fields where she wants to have an impact.

“I’m really interested in computer science, as you can imagine, and also social justice.”

Nandini Verma

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Nandini Verma is in 8th grade at Thornton Junior High

Nandini Verma is currently in 8th grade, and attends Thornton Junior High. Her project was: Does Listening to Music Have the Same Effect as Feeling Its Vibrations?

“I’ve been surrounded by music for a really long time in my life, and it just seems like such an essential part to experience, and I feel like everyone should be able to experience it in the best way possible,” said Verma. 

As a pianist, Verma considers Beethoven one of her greatest inspirations, particularly that he made such beautiful compositions without being able to hear. She once read that he took the legs off his piano and placed it on the floor so he could feel the vibrations as he played. 

“That got me thinking, is there a similarity between how we experience music by listening to it and by feeling its vibrations?”

Verma recorded the brain waves of 20 participants while listening to music, feeling the vibrations of music, and while feeling vibrations with visual cues to see if hearing or feeling vibrations of music would have similar benefits. Her results indicate there are many similarities, and she wants to take her research forward and repeat the work with research-grade equipment. 

Verma is already brainstorming ideas for this year’s science and engineering fair, possibly a project centered around the brain as she’s interested in neuroscience. She eventually wants to study and a pursue career in medicine

“I definitely want to go into medicine, I’m not really sure what type of field I want to study. That’s why I’m doing these science fair projects, so I can see and get exposure to different aspects of the field.”

In 2021, a project by FUSD student Ryka Chopra, which examined if fast food companies chose to open franchises in areas with high levels of obesity, won the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Award for Health Advancement at the 2021 Broadcom MASTERS national finals. 

Click here to read Five Questions with Ryka Chopra, winner of the 2021 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Award for Health Advancement.




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