Bay Area students compete for $100,000

January 28, 2009 5:47:19 PM PST
There has been plenty of constructive criticism about education in America but it is not always bad news.

Intel announced Wednesday the finalists for its National Science Talent Search. These smart high school seniors are already doing PhD-level research.

Three of them come from the Bay Area.

Mission San Jose High School in Fremont already had a good reputation. It is rated as one of the top-fifty public high schools in the nation. That standing may improve after a campus visit they received Wednesday.

"This is a surprise," said Julie Dunkel.

Dunkel and an entourage visited student Marianna Mao in class Wednesday morning.

"Well I was waiting until 12:00 p.m. because I wanted to see the list," said Mao.

The elite list is made up of 40 top students from across the country, all of them finalists for the Intel Science Talent Search and a top prize of $100,000. The company has given away $14 million in 11 years.

'We're trying to identify the next generation of innovators," said

The Bay Area produced three finalists this year. Arnie Deshmukh of Bellarmine Prep did a project about restoring soils after wildfires. At Menlo Atherthon High School Julia Ransohoff did stem cell research in transplant patients.

Back in Fremont Mao explained her research.

"Well, I basically developed a way to numerically approximate wave forms that are generated by attractions between binary starts and globular clusters," she said.

ABC7 asked her mother, "How did you get such a smart daughter?"

"Lucky," she replied.

Next for the kids is a trip to Washington in March and questions from a panel of Nobel Laureates.

No pressure there.