Best High Schools Send Students to Science Semifinals

Semifinalists in the Intel Science Talent Search hail from top high schools in New York, California, Virginia.

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Fifteen students from Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Va., were chosen as semifinalists in the Intel Science Talent Search, the nation's oldest and most prestigious science competition. That's the most semifinalists from a single high school this year. Thomas Jefferson High was ranked the No. 1 high school in the nation by U.S. News & World Report for the second year straight. See the full list of America's Best High Schools.

In all, 300 students from 176 high schools were named semifinalists this week. That was out of a pool of 1,806 contestants. On January 28, the list will narrow even more. Only 40 students will become finalists. They will travel to Washington, D.C., and compete for a $100,000 grand prize.

With 114 semifinalists, New York is the best-represented state. The top two public high schools with the most semifinalists in New York are also gold medal schools. They are No. 23-ranked Stuyvesant High School, which produced 11 semifinalists, and No. 33-ranked Bronx High School of Science, which produced 9. California has 25 semifinalists, and Maryland has 21, while New Jersey and Virginia each have 15.

Some of the projects defy simple explanation. A 17-year-old student from Bronx Science was chosen as a semifinalist for a project entitled "Computational Modeling of the Quantum Mechanical Excitations in a Light Harvesting Complex in Purple Bacteria." Other projects touch on global warming, cancer research, and mathematical theories.

Intel, the computer chip manufacturer, is behind the contest. Intel and other businesses have voiced strong concerns about the state of math and science education in the United States. In December, U.S. News wrote about several schools that cracked the top 100 list of best high schools and their efforts to prepare more students for careers in the STEM fields—science, technology, engineering, and math.

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