Building Steam

As the floor of the convention center fills with completed displays, an overwhelming sense of significance is growing, like static in the air before a lightning strike. In terms of technical precision and real-world relevance, most of the entries here are light years beyond the stereotypical projects that come to mind when most people think of a science fair. Walking through the aisles, one consistently encounters projects tackling the most intractable problems facing global society today, reconceiving and addressing them with fresh perspectives. These are harbingers of greater things to come for and from this next generation of scientists: careers defined, revolutions made, and lives changed, along with the world.

Rolling into the second day of Intel ISEF 2007, setup is still the top priority. SRC interviews and display arrangement are continuing all day. But sandwiched between the satisfaction of those technical details there are many opportunities for education and exploration. Workshops on communicating science, protecting intellectual property, and networking with other finalists take place throughout the morning and afternoon. And stir-crazy students and parents can escape the confines of the convention center with assorted guided tours. Exploring the peaks of the Sandia Mountains, soaring in hot air balloons over the city, and visiting the Trinity site where the first atomic bomb was tested are but a few of the options.

Even so, the Opening Ceremonies are undoubtedly the highlight of today's events. They begin with a dinner from 3:45 to 6:15 p.m., and conclude with the ceremony itself between 7 and 8:30 p.m. For the keynote address, participants will hear from Angela Belcher, a biomolecular materials scientist at MIT who, among other things, has pioneered the use of viruses to construct nanomaterials.

9:30 p.m. marks the official end of the day's events with the release of the SRC's final list of project violations, setting the stage for a very tense and hectic Tuesday morning for any cited finalists, who will only have until 10 a.m. tomorrow to address any violations.

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