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Broadcom MASTERS - 8 Reasons to Participate

STEM competitions can be a pivotal part of your academic and personal growth as a middle schooler, providing a platform to showcase your talents and interests while helping you develop said talents. They not only offer a chance to dive deep into the subjects you love but also help in building a strong profile for college applications. Today’s blog post covers one such competition, the Broadcom MASTERS challenge. If you’re a middle school student interested in STEM, this blog will help you understand what this competition is all about and why you should consider participating in it.

What is Broadcom MASTERS?

The Broadcom MASTERS (Math, Applied Science, Technology, and Engineering for Rising Stars) competition is a competition for U.S. middle school students in grades 6th through 8th to engage deeply with STEM disciplines. Initiated by the Society for Science & the Public, this competition aims to inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers, and innovators. Unlike many other national and international STEM competitions, you’ll only be able to participate in Broadcom MASTERS if you’re nominated from affiliated science fairs across the country. Along with the selected pool of semifinalists and then finalists, you’ll be presenting your research and participating in team-based STEM challenges at the national level that test your problem-solving skills, creativity, and teamwork.

The competition in its latest iteration has been renamed to the Thermo Fisher Scientific Junior Innovators Challenge. While retaining the core elements that have made the competition a cornerstone of middle school STEM education, the new iteration leverages Thermo Fisher Scientific's resources and expertise to provide an even more enriching experience for participants, focusing on cutting-edge science and technology.

Is it prestigious?

Broadcom MASTERS draws thousands of participants from across the nation. Entry into the competition is selective, with only the top 10% of 6th, 7th, and 8th graders from affiliated science fairs invited to apply. From there, 300 top projects are chosen, and finally, 30 finalists are selected to compete in the national finals. This rigorous selection process highlights the competition's status and the level of involvement and learning it offers​​​​. The $100,000 worth of prizes on offer further cement this status. Participating in, and especially winning, Broadcom MASTERS is a mark of excellence on your profile.

Who is eligible for Broadcom MASTERS?

To be eligible for Broadcom MASTERS, you must:

How does the application process work?

As stated above, the application process starts with being nominated from an affiliated science fair, where you must rank within the top 10% to be eligible. The next step is to fill a highly detailed online application, which will require you to provide:

  • Your basic information.

  • Details of your project, including your mentor, project category, title, overview, hypothesis, methodology, and conclusions. This is the most detailed and important section of your application!

  • A visual aid to demonstrate your project materials / methods, research data and / or analyses used to support your findings. You are restricted to only two pages as part of your application PDF, thus you will need to be careful and selective in what to include here that will be both impactful and informative.

  • A set of four essays on the following topic prompts, each between 200-300 words:

  • About yourself.

  • Solving a problem.

  • Your STEM journey.

  • Your personal story.

  • The last section requires you to detail what paperwork you completed, what safety measures you followed, and/or what approval process you completed for your research project.

The application is, as you may have surmised, very lengthy and detailed, and we highly suggest combing over the application PDF provided thoroughly. Applications are open from February 1, 2024 to June 14, 2024.

How is the competition structured?

The Broadcom MASTERS competition structure is designed to test a wide range of skills beyond your scientific knowledge, including but not limited to critical thinking, teamwork, communication, and creativity. Here’s a closer look at how the competition is structured once all the applications have been submitted:

  • Selection of semifinalists (September 4, 2024): From the pool of applicants, 300 semifinalists are selected based on their project's scientific rigor, their potential as a future leader in the STEM fields, and their demonstration of teamwork, critical thinking, and communication.

  • Finalist selection (September 18, 2024): Out of the 300 semifinalists, 30 finalists are chosen to compete in the national competition. This selection is based on a further review of the applications, considering the depth of their scientific knowledge, creativity, and potential to solve future challenges in innovative ways.

  • Team challenges (October 2024): Upon arriving at the national competition, you and your team will participate in a series of challenges. These are designed to mimic real-world STEM situations and problems, requiring you to apply your knowledge in novel ways, work effectively with your team, and communicate your solutions effectively. The challenges span the STEM fields, including hands-on engineering problems, data analysis tasks, and collaborative experiments. Each challenge is scored based on criteria such as innovation, application of scientific method, teamwork, and presentation skills.

  • Individual presentations (October 2024): In addition to team challenges, you will be presenting your original science fair project to a panel of judges and the public. These presentations are an opportunity for you to demonstrate your deep understanding of the chosen topic, the scientific process, and your ability to communicate complex ideas effectively.

  • Judging and awards: Throughout the competition, judges from various STEM fields will assess your performance in team challenges and individual projects. Awards are given in several categories, recognizing not just the scientific merit of the projects but also the soft skills displayed during team challenges, such as leadership, teamwork, and problem-solving. You can check the full list of prizes here.

  • Educational and social activities: Beyond the competition, you will get the chance to participate in educational workshops, social activities, and networking events with their peers and STEM professionals.

8 reasons to participate

  1. It is highly prestigious: Considering that you have to be in the top 10% at a science fair to even be nominated, followed by another two rounds of shortlisting, simply reaching the final 30 in Broadcom MASTERS is itself a sizable achievement. Achieving reward and recognition here can significantly enhance your academic and professional profile, distinguishing you among peers and in college applications.

  2. It’s a massive networking opportunity: The competition offers the chance to connect with leading STEM professionals, past participants who are now influential innovators, and representatives from sponsoring organizations like the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, DoD STEM, Wolfram Research and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to name a few. These are invaluable networking opportunities that can help you build a successful academic future and career in STEM.

  3. You will get a lot of hands-on experience: Aside from the entire experience of creating and researching your project, the MASTERS Finals Week and Showcase will allow you to participate in real-world challenges as well as presentations. Both of these are great ways to strengthen your practical knowledge as well as your presentation skills.

  4. Plenty of opportunity for skill development: The competition emphasizes critical thinking, collaboration, and creative problem-solving, skills highly valued in any career path, thus offering a comprehensive skill development opportunity outside traditional education settings.

  5. Access to mentorship and guidance: The entire purpose of Broadcom MASTERS is to inspire and nurture young talent in STEM. The access it provides to mentorship from experts in various STEM fields can provide guidance, inspire future career paths, and offer insights into the latest industry trends and opportunities.

  6. Visibility for your project: Presenting your project at a national level increases visibility among key stakeholders in the STEM community, including potential future employers, educators, and media, spotlighting your achievements and potential. It is also, naturally, the best way to potentially bring your dream to life.

  7. Helps build a sense of community and teamwork: The collaborative aspect of the competition fosters a strong sense of community and teamwork, encouraging you to work effectively with others and build lasting relationships within the STEM field.

  8. The awards and scholarships on offer: The competition offers substantial awards and scholarships that can support further education and project development. These financial incentives not only provide recognition for your hard work and achievements but also encourage continued innovation and exploration in STEM fields.

The Broadcom MASTERS competition is an excellent opportunity to challenge yourself, explore your passion for STEM, and potentially set the stage for a future career in these fields. By participating, you not only gain recognition for your hard work but also develop valuable skills and connections that will serve you well beyond middle school.

Lumiere Research Scholar Program

If you’re interested in pursuing research in STEM, you could also consider applying to one of the Lumiere Research Scholar Programs, selective online high school programs for students I founded with researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 4000 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here.

Stephen is one of the founders of Lumiere and a Harvard College graduate. He founded Lumiere as a PhD student at Harvard Business School. Lumiere is a selective research program where students work 1-1 with a research mentor to develop an independent research paper.

Image Source: Broadcom Masters logo



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