Archive | May, 2014

Broadcom MASTERS/ISEF Day 4

16 May

     Today, I got to go to the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach.  I just went on a field trip to Catalina Island with my school and the aquarium is right around the corner from where the boats leave to take people to Catalina. 

     I love the touch tanks where we can touch moon jellyfish, bat rays, and starfish.  My favorite creature to touch is the sea cucumber.  I don’t know why, but sea cucumbers and sea slugs are my favorite.  I once went out on a boat right next door to the aquarium where they throw out a net and catch lots of different animals.  They caught a sea slug and let me hold it.  I was so happy!  It was like a dream come true.

     Then, we toured the exhibits inside the aquarium.  There were coral reefs, kelp forests, and a giant aquarium filled with California marine life.  There is one display that features incredibly camouflaged creatures as well.  There was also an area with frogs.  I LOVE frogs!  A long time ago, I did a podcast called “Fun Stuff for Kids to do in Southern California.”  I interviewed one of the volunteer SCUBA divers from the aquarium.  Check it out here.  Keith Brush was really, really nice.  He also runs a company called “Future Scientists and Engineers of America.”  Wow, I was really young back then!  My brother in the pictures will be 17 this month!

     We also had the opportunity to have Universal Studios all to ourselves.  They closed the park down and only ISEF and Broadcom students were there.  I got to ride on Dispicable Me, Transformers, The Mummy, and The Simpsons rides.  There was also a sort of museum with props from old movies.  They had one of the dinosaurs from the Jurassic Park movies.  I didn’t get back to the hotel room until after 12:45!  I was so tired that I’ll have to post pictures in this blog some other time.

     One of the most helpful things that we did is that we got together with all of the ISEF students from my region and we practiced their interviews over and over giving them feedback and helping them get better and better each time.  I hope that this helps them with their judging.  It was really fun for me to learn so much about their projects.  We did this with all of the Broadcom students in Washington D.C. and it helped me a lot.

      Broadcom and Society for Science and the Public have done such a wonderful job of making sure that we’re having a great time and learning a lot.

      Oh, and I forgot to mention yesterday that they gave us a Raspberry Pi.  I now have 3 Raspberry Pis.  I’m going to have to find a project that connects all three to do something special.


Broadcom MASTERS/ISEF Day 3

14 May

    Today, we went to Disney Studios in Burbank.  We went to the stages where the shows are made.  We went to the stages for a show called “Intelligence.”  We had lunch with Imagineers.  I sat with an Imagineer named Amy Goodwin and she was inspired to become an Imagineer when she was at Disneyland and saw an interactive display where a cartoon character talks to you and knows things about you (I think that there are cameras and a person behind the scenes doing the voices through a microphone).  This really motivated her.  Then she was an intern at Disney Studios and she met the right people and worked really hard and eventually became an Imagineer herself.  This was her dream come true.  Her sister is a microbiologist and got to name her own protein!

    Then, we went to Disney Archives which is kind of like a museum of old Disney memorabilia like items that they sold at Disneyland when it first opened.  We got to hold the Oscar award that Walt Disney won.  We saw an original Disneyland ticket and some of the costumes that they used in Saving Mr. Banks and costumes from Pirates of the Caribean.  We saw miniature models from A Christmas Carol.  They showed us the camera that they used to film Snow White and ended up using for other movies.  The movie was such a hit that it funded the creation of several more movies after that.  Here are some photos from these two places:

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    Then we went to the La Brea Tarpits.  I had been there once before, but it’s such a great place, I could go there ten times and it would still be fun.  We had a tour guide explaining things to us and telling us stories.  One of the coolest things that they have is metal plungers that are down in some tar and you get to try to pull it up to see how sticky and strong the tar is.  After trying this, you can really see how animals couldn’t get out.

    I got back from the tar pits too late to hear the panel of Nobel Prize winners speak, but I met two of them in the lobby and got my picture taken with them.  One of them was named Dr. Sir Harold Kroto and he was a Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry 1996.  His work was about proving that Buckyballs exist and can be produced in stars.  Here’s a link to his Wikipedia page.  The other was Dr. J. Michael Bishop who was a Nobel Prize winner in Physiology/Medicine in 1989 for his discovery of the cellular origin of retroviral oncogenes.  Here is his Wikipedia page.


    Then, we went to L.A. Live.  They have music and dancing at the Nokia Club.  They had all different kinds of juices for us.  There’s also a game room, bowling alley, food, and pool tables.  It was a great way to mix with all of the ISEF participants and observers.

Today was another incredible day!  I can’t wait to see what they have in store for us tomorrow.

ISEF/Broadcom MASTERS International Day 2

14 May

Today, I got to do several amazing things.  I’ll start with the last one first.  Tonight was the ISEF opening ceremonies and keynote speaker.  The keynote speaker was Mike Ebeling.  He’s the founder and CEO of “Not Impossible Labs” a group of inventors trying to improve the world and help people remain healthy and live good lives.  He’s a great presenter and is doing amazing things for the world.  Here’s a link to some of his videos:

TED Video called “The Invention that Unlocked a Locked in Artist

“Not Impossible” website with a list of the inventions from “Not Impossible Labs

Here’s a picture of the amazing opening ceremony


There were over 1,780 participants from 70 countries!  There are thousands of judges, translators, and chaperones to make this all happen.  Amazing!  The only thing missing is all of the TV cameras and reporters that would be here if the top 1,700 athletes were in the room.  I guarantee you that with the number of brilliant, inventive teenagers in this room, there are at least a handful of billion dollar inventions/apps/companies and at least a handful of future cured diseases in this room.  Every reporter in the country should be here!

Here I am sitting with my friends from my region at the ceremony.


From front to back, there’s Andres Gonzalez, me, Hondo Gonzalez, Michael Janner, Saumya Ramadugu Keremane, Loren Newton, Connor Tom, and Jared Tramontano.

Today, I also got to tour a 3D printing lab at UC Irvine.  We have a 3D printer at my school, but it is nothing like the printers that they have.  Theirs are amazing.  We didn’t actually get to see them print, but they did some cool things with us.  They had us make a mold of our thumb and pour resin into the mold.  Now, I have a 3-D model of my thumb!  AWESOME!  Here it is:


Maybe the coolest thing that I got to do today was to tour the Broadcom offices.  Broadcom makes one of the chips on the Raspberry Pi!!  When you type in the python code “GPIO.setmode(GPIO.BCM)”, the BCM stands for “Broadcom.”  Eben Upton, the inventor of the Raspberry Pi works for Broadcom.  To me, this was as if a baseball fan got to go in the locker room at Yankee Stadium or if a Sci Fi fan got to go on the set of Dr. Who.  The only thing better would have been to go to one of the factories where they make the chips.  This Broadcom building is mostly offices, but we did get to have lunch with some engineers.

Today was a day of meeting new people, seeing existing friends, bumping into D.C. Broadcom MASTERS colleagues, and touring amazing places.  Today was an incredible day!!!


International Broadcom MASTERS

12 May

Today was my first day at the International Broadcom MASTERS, International Science and Engineering Fair in Los Angeles.  If all of the days are like today, it’s going to be one of the best weeks of my life!  Keep watching and I’ll try to blog every night about what we do.  The plan is that I’ll get to visit the Broadcom factory, get a behind the scenes tour of Disneyland, meet Nobel Prize winners, and visit university laboratories.  Amazing!

Today, I got to meet my team.  We are called the “Grey Wolves” and there are members from China, Japan, Finland, India, and more.  That’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.  So far, there hasn’t been a lot of communication because of the languages, but I’m sure that Society for Science and the Public will help us out with that over the next 5 days.  We started with some ice breaker activities and they were fun.

We also do a pin exchange with us and the International Science Fair students.  This is where people from all over the world exchange pins or buttons that represent their local area.  See the picture below for some of my collection.

Keep watching my blog as the week is going to get more and more exciting each day.  Thanks, Broadcom!


Chasing LEDs Raspberry Pi and PiFace

5 May

Tonight, my dad an I decided to do a chasing LED.  I want to do an LED cube, but it was too close to my bedtime.  We got the basic instructions from this instructables.  Here’s what you’ll need to complete the project:

Raspberry Pi with accessories


LEDs, breadboard, resistors, and wires


The circuit is set up basically by having each of the positive legs of the LEDs (the longer leg) in one of the rails of the breadboard that go all the way from one end to the other.  The positive 5 Volts from the PiFace is connected to the rail next to that one and then a resistor connects the two rails so that the 5 volts must pass through the resistor to get to the LEDs.  I used a 180 ohm resistor because that’s what came with the Raspberry Pi CanaKit.  I ended up adding a second resistor for the video because the LEDs were too bright.

Then, each short leg of the LED goes to its own row on the breadboard and is connected to a different output on the PiFace from LED0 to LED7.

Here’s a picture of the code:


Here’s what each line does:

Lines 1 and two import libraries to be used later.  Line 3 is blank.  Line 4 shortens that long code into shorter pfd.  Line 5 makes sure that all of the LEDs are turned off.  Line 6 is going to make the entire sequence run 5 times.  Lines 7 to 11 is the loop that sequentially turns each LED on and then back off again after waiting .o2 seconds.  Lines 12 to 16 is the loop that reverses the sequence and turns the LEDs on and off from the other end.  The last line just once again makes sure that all of the LEDs are turned off before ending the program.

I did one new thing tonight.  I normally use VIM to type my programs into the terminal window but I keep forgetting the commands.  So, tonight, I used nano.  To run nano, just type “sudo nano” at the command prompt.  Then you use ctrl and the “O” key to save the file and ctrl and the “X” key to exit nano.  Then to run the program from the command line, I just type “sudo python” (my program’s name was

Here’s a video of the LEDs working.