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Bollt traveling to Arizona for international science fair

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POTSDAM - Next month Scott A. Bollt will be traveling to Phoenix, Ariz. to present a report he wrote at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.

Mr. Bollt, who is a freshman at Potsdam High School earned the right to present at the fair after winning one of three grand prizes at the Dr. Nelson Ying Tri Region Science and Engineering Fair in Syracuse last month.

Mr. Bollt’s presentation, which included a report and a poster titled “Improving Car Aerodynamics: Testing CAD Models in a Self-Engineered Wind Tunnel” also won third prize in the science photography contest, the Innovative Engineering Award from the National Society of Professional Engineers & Professional Engineers in Industry, as well as a second engineering award.

While showing his poster in the living room of his Potsdam home, Mr. Bollt said the poster he exhibited in Syracuse will not be the some one he shows in Arizona.

“I saw there were some errors in it. There are some little things I need to change,” he said. “I put a lot of time into it, but I’m going to refine it. I’ll try to make it fancy and spice it up a little bit.”

One reason to spice up the project is that in Phoenix he’ll be one of 1,600 high school students from around the world making presentations at the event, which will be held from May 12-17. Up for grabs will be prizes that include $75,000, full four-year or half four-year college scholarships.

“I decided to do a project because I really like aerodynamics,” he said. “I’m not really a car guy, but I’m really into aerodynamics. I’m into aerospace engineering and I understand that a lot of the cars I see don’t live up to their aerodynamic potential.”

Prior to writing his report, Mr. Bollt conducted a study of his own using three models in a wind tunnel that he constructed in the basement of his home. When asked if he was bringing the wind tunnel to Phoenix, he replied, “I can’t, it won’t fit out the door,” before making a joke about trying to explain it to airport security.

Mr. Bollt said he ran tests with each model in his wind tunnel three times, using the average of his findings for his final report.

When asked to give some examples of aerodynamics in automobiles today, he said among the least aerodynamic automobiles are SUVS, while some more aerodynamic models include the Volkswagon 1 Liter and Honda Insight.

“Sports cars have the most thought put into their aerodynamics,” he said. However, he noted, their aerodynamics are often compromised to slow down winds and increase their performance “on the track.”

“A lot of times aerodynamics are compromised for aesthetics, because the new designs don’t look good,” he said.

Since he won one of the grand prizes in Syracuse, his expenses for the week in Phoenix are being paid for. His father, Erik Bollt, is a mathematics professor at Clarkson and will be joining him on the trip.

Mr. Bollt entered his first science fair last year, as an eighth-grader competing in the middle school division of the same event in Syracuse. He won a prize for having the best presentation from St. Lawrence County, a prize for using SI units and one of the grand prizes, earning him the right to be one of more than 3,000 applicants to apply for 30 spots at a national middle school science fair.

While Mr. Bollt said his project cracked the top 300, he unfortunately did not make the top 30.

This year though, as a freshman, he’s headed to one of the biggest high school science fairs in the world.

“I got into this last year after I discovered the fair,” he said. “I was really looking for a way to vent my love for science.”

Mr. Bollt said he discovered the fair after reading about a student who won $25,000 in a science magazine that he subscribes to.

“I thought, ‘I could do that,’” he said.

In Phoenix, he’ll be competing for cash and prizes that include $75,000 and even full or half four-year scholarships.

“Individual sponsors also have prizes,” he said, explaining those prizes can range from $500 to $15,000.

“I’m only a freshman and most of the people will be seniors,” he said when asked if he thought he had a chance at one of the major prizes.

“Last year a freshman won, but that’s really rare,” he said. “I don’t think anyone’s ever won twice.”

Mr. Bollt said he’s planning to continue entering the science fairs and is hoping to return to the Intel event again in the future.

“I’m going to keep on doing this until I go to college,” he said.

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