BIC freshman makes top semi-finalists and selected for Sparticl teen advisory board

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Drew McFall, a freshman at Buffalo Island Central Junior High School, received notice in August he had been selected as a semifinalist in the 2013 Broadcom MASTERS, a program of Society for Science and the Public.

Drew McFall, BIC Freshman, pictured with Art Fry, co-inventor of the Post-It note. (photo provided)

Drew had no idea his science project, a robotic hand he named "Handy," would go so far. His project was one of 300 semifinalists chosen from more than 6,000 nominees throughout the United States. Projects from the 300 semifinalists included 56 from California, 33 from Texas, 32 from Florida, 20 from Oregon and 15 from Pennsylvania. Drew was one of two from Arkansas making it to the semifinals.

He received a gift card, sponsored by Elmer's, the official classroom sponsor of the Broadcom MASTERS, and his instructor Mr. Steve Brummett, received a set of Sally Ride Career books for the classroom.

The fully operational robotic hand, Drew's eighth grade science project chosen in the third annual Broadcom Masters, is able to move each finger and each joint. He controls the robot using his laptop. It took Drew about two months of work to create complete the project and it was entered at the Arkansas State University for competition in May.

The Broadcom MASTERS is a prestigious science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) competition for middle school students in the sixth, seventh and eighth grades.

"Broadcom focuses on STEM education at the middle school level because statistically there is a significant drop off in math and science during high school that can be prevented if students are encouraged to explore their skills early on," said Paula Golden, Executive Director, Broadcom Foundation and Director, Community Affairs, Broadcom Corporation. "The Broadcom MASTERS competition was designed to inspire the next generation of engineers and scientists to take on careers in STEM that will help change our world for the better."

The 2013 semifinalists represent 253 middle schools in 43 states, representing 123 fairs across the United States, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands.

Drew has received a request to allow his project to be put in one of the classrooms at ASU.

"Mr. Brummett, math/physics teacher, helped me with planning the project and Dr. Hammerand of ASU helped me with the programming of the chip," Drew said. "He taught me three languages to write the program in. I have enjoyed working on the project."

Drew's mother, Mandy McFall, was his science teacher in the seventh and eighth grades.

Drew enjoys science and technology and hopes to become a mechanical engineer and software developer.

He received recognition through becoming a semifinalist with his science project .

He was invited to be one of 14 teen advisors to serve on the first-ever Sparticl Teen Advisory Board. He was chosen out of hundreds of Beta testers.

The launching of Sparticl is scheduled for October, 2013. Designed for teen 13-15, Sparticl is a destination for discovery, for sharing and for earning status and rewards.

Drew said it is user friendly and will have resources for more than 800 topics by launch. It will be very popular with teens.

As a teen advisor, Drew received an all expense paid trip to St. Paul, Minn., on Aug. 3-5.

"It as a great learning experience," Drew said. "We were busy for the three days. We visited several sights including the Twin Cities Public Television (TPT), in St. Paul and the Science Museum."

In addition they enjoyed a presentation from Sparticl web programmer, a Sparticl brainstorm session, and private tour. Drew said he really enjoyed visiting the archives with millions of the rarest pieces.

They also visited the Innovation Center. They met several inventors including Art Fry, the co-inventor of Post-It Notes. They took a tour of the Mall of America.

Drew said the trip was a great experience and he is grateful for he opportunity.

Drew is the son of Darrin and Mandy McFall of Leachville. In addition to enjoying science and math, he is in the band plays several instruments.

This school year he will compete in the high school science project division and he is thinking about what he plans to do this year. It will be hard to top last year's project but he is going to do his best.

Drew has had a great summer. In addition to his science project, he and two other team members, Clay Turner and MaKensie Walker, won National competition in July with their FCCLA project, "Grab N Go Bar."

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