Mannington Twp. School seventh-grade student Hanna Richman was recognized as a national semifinalist in the Broadcom MASTERS science competition.
The 300 semifinalists -- selected from more than 1,695 middle-school applicants by a panel of distinguished scientists and engineers -- came from 43 states representing 123 science fairs across the United States as well as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Hanna became interested in photosynthesis and how it benefits farms, according to her science teacher, Nancy Anderson. Hanna learned that plants produce nutrients that cows need. That led her to research whether an alfalfa plant produces more needed nutrients if it has fewer leaves.
“She started thinking about how to get the plants to produce more nutrients, by doing photosynthesis more efficiently,” said Anderson. “Then she thought about different variables she could change and decided upon changing the number of leaves. Hanna found that stressing the plant by plucking one of the three leaves of an alfalfa plant caused the remaining leaves to produce more nutrients through more efficient photosynthesis.”
As a sixth grader last school year, Hanna participated in school, county and regional competitions, culminating with a spot in the Broadcom MASTERS (Math, Applied Science, Technology and Engineering for Rising Stars). After placing first in 6th grade, she won second in Botany and earned “Best in Fair” for the 6th graders at the Salem County Science Fair at Salem Community College and placed first in Botany among 6th-8th graders at the Delaware Valley Science Fair at Drexel University in Philadelphia.
“I’m very excited to be a Broadcom MASTER,” Hanna said. “I was very surprised because I was only in sixth grade and didn’t think I would be in the top 300 in the country. I was a little disappointed because I did not get to go to the White House as a finalist, but that gives me a goal for my next project.”
When entering the Broadcom MASTERS competition, Hanna submitted an online application about her interests, the project (including how she tested and her results) and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) questions.
"Hanna is a student who sets very high goals for herself,” said Anderson. “I am looking forward to watching her grow over the next two years.”
At the National Holstein Convention in Indiana this summer, Hanna placed second in the juniors division for prepared public speaking for her formal speech about her research for her Science Fair project.
According to its website, the Broadcom MASTERS is the leading STEM competition for sixth, seventh, and eighth graders. It encourages middle school students to continue their studies in STEM courses throughout high school by igniting a personal passion for science, technology, engineering, math and innovation. The contest is sponsored by the Broadcom Foundation in partnership with Society for Science & the Public.
Photo caption: Hanna Richman, a seventh grader at Mannington Twp. School, sits in a field of alfalfa. Research she has done with that plant has led her to the semifinals in the Broadcom MASTERS national science competition.