- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 13, 2005

Four Montgomery County Blair High School seniors have joined a select group of 40 of the nation’s top science students as finalists in the annual Intel Science Talent Search.

The finalists will compete for more than $500,000 in scholarships that will be announced tomorrow night at a banquet in the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center.

“No other school had so many finalists,” said Intel STS spokeswoman Heidi Donato.

She said more than 1,600 high school seniors from 47 states, the District, Puerto Rico and two overseas schools submitted science research projects.

The Blair seniors are:

• Abigail Fraeman, 17, of Olney, whose research paper about planets orbiting stars might have been inspired from her use of a telescope that her father gave her. Her father, Martin Fraeman, is an electrical engineer; her mother, Kathy, a statistical analyst.

• Sherri Yifan Geng, 18, of the 11000 block of Sugarbush Terrace in Rockville, created an automated detection system to identify neurological seizures, which 10 percent of Americans will experience. Her father, Zheng Geng, is an entrepreneur, she said, and her mother, Jennifer, is employed as a statistician.

• Michael Andrew Forbes, 17, of 1921 Morningmist Drive in Silver Spring, submitted a computer science system to lay out the most cost-efficient routes for supermarkets and other businesses to deliver goods. He is the younger son of Kevin Forbes, a Catholic University professor, and Lorraine Daly.

• Justin Alexander Kovac, 17, now living and working in Miami, studied “warm core rings” of water in the Gulf of Mexico and how they might evolve into hurricanes. He is the younger son of George Kovac, a lawyer, and Holly Davis, of Holly Hill in Potomac.

Justin fulfilled graduation requirements after 3 years and earned perfect SAT scores at Blair. He is continuing his work on warm core rings at the University of Miami.

“I will be back to walk across the stage to get my diploma from Blair on June 2,” he said.

In his spare time, Justin goes snorkeling, swimming, kayaking — “anything with water” — or bicycling, swing dancing and competing in track and field.

All the finalists from Blair plan to go on to college, but they are awaiting results of the Intel STS competition before they choose which school they will attend.

“I’m still shocked” at being selected a finalist, said Abigail, and, yes, “I’ve thought about becoming an astronaut.”

She learned to play the viola from her father, but now plays a violin in the Blair orchestra. She is an avid fencer and competed in the Junior Olympics national championship. She was one of 16 international student astronauts selected for a 10-day assignment at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. She sang and played Evil Queen Aggravian in “Once Upon a Mattress” at Blair.

Abigail and Sherri have been classmates and friends since the fourth grade.

Sherri is editor of Blair’s newspaper, Silver Chips, and is co-president of the physics team and science club. Her SAT scores are perfect and she has won awards as a world-class table tennis player. She worked and studied electroencephalography (EEG) the past two summers at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research.

Michael is president of Blazernet, the high school Internet provider at Blair. He has received awards for ballroom dancing and enjoys origami, bonsai and golf.

Intel STS was created in 1942 by Science Services. Its finalists have gone on to achieve more than 100 world science and mathematics awards and six Nobel prizes.

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