Bellaire Student Will Sit With Obamas For Annual Speech
Eighteen-year-old Li Boynton has already been accepted to Yale, has won top honors at the Intel International Science Fair and has received over $50,000 in college scholarships. But the Bellaire High School senior says meeting President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama tomorrow will be more thrilling than any other prize or recognition.
Boynton has not only been invited by the White House to attend the President’s State of the Union Address tomorrow, but she will sit with First Lady Michelle Obama. That means she could be mentioned during the President’s address.
“We are extremely proud of Li,” says HISD Superintendent Terry Grier in a statement. “Li has already accomplished so many great things and is destined for even more.”
In addition to attending the speech that evening, Boynton will find out Wednesday afternoon if she is a finalist for the prestigious Intel Science Talent Search Award. The award is the country’s oldest and most prestigious high school science competition.
Past winners have made extraordinary contributions to science and hold more than 100 of the world’s most coveted science and math honors, including seven Nobel Prizes and three National Medals of Science.
Boynton is one of 300 semifinalists for the Science Talent Search award. On Wednesday, 40 finalists will be chosen and will then travel to Washington, D.C. in March to participate in final judging, display their work to the public, meet with notable scientists, and compete for the top award of $100,000.
Boynton’s research paper entitled “The Use of Bioluminescent Bacteria to Detect Environmental Contaminants” earned her a semi-finalist spot in the competition. The paper details how living organisms that give off light can be used as sensors to detect contaminants in water.
Last year, Boynton actually developed a sensor made from bioluminescent bacteria. Her creation is cheaper and easier to use than current methods and won her the top prize at the 2009 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. She hopes the device will one day be used in developing countries to reduce water toxicity.