Michael Becker didn’t win the $25,000 top prize at the Broadcom MASTERS (Math, Applied Science, Technology and Engineering for Rising Stars), but the Liberty Christian School freshman returned home Wednesday with a medal of achievement, $750 in awards and memories to last a lifetime — he even had an asteroid named after him.
Becker was one of 30 finalists from six states invited to Washington, D.C., for the Broadcom MASTERS, a science, technology, engineering and mathematics competition for middle school students that tests competitors’ abilities in the related subject, teamwork and collaboration.
“It was a great experience, just an honor to be out there,” Becker said. “I got to meet a ton of new people and a lot of new friends that, hopefully, I’ll keep those relationships forever.”
In his time as a finalist, Becker presented a science project on how air temperature can impact the pitch of a musical instrument. For three hours, the public was able to view and discuss Becker’s project — and the projects of other finalists — in the National Geographic Museum.
Becker also had opportunities to tour sites of the nation’s capital and surrounding areas and he participated in team competitions that included researching for more efficient solar technology, setting up a structure that could withstand a leaf blower and challenges relating to water cycles, circuits and fuses, Mayan math, wind turbines and rockets.
Becker said that highlights of his five-day trip included working with a team in building a roller coaster out of foam pipe, shaking the hand of President Barack Obama on the steps of the Rose Garden and receiving a personal tour of the Oval Office from the president himself. He calls the experience one of the best he’s ever had.
School officials at Liberty Christian say Becker was the first student from the school to advance to the Broadcom MASTERS finals.
Michael’s father, David Becker, who traveled with him to Washington, said the finalists selected for the competition were “definitely an elite group of kids.”
“It was great to see [Michael] work with the kids and interact with them,” David Becker said. “It makes us extremely proud.”