When students love and do well in math and science, the rest of the world gains thoughtful important citizens.
image004.jpgCNN, December 22, 2007 – In the fifth grade, she started a math camp. By sixth grade, Isha Jain was breezing through college-level work and trigonometry classes. When she was in the eighth grade, she aced advanced calculus. Isha Jain thinks math and science are cool.

Her taste for science started at 9 when she created a paradigm to explain the molecular structure of candy. It sounds sweet, but also sophisticated — teachers in the U.S. and abroad have used her methods in the classroom. Before she was old enough to buy sweets at a PG-13 movie, her candy-making findings were featured at major scientific summits.

Recently, 16-year-old Isha used both skill sets to identify what causes growth spurts. Not only did she think her findings were cool, but so did the journal “Developmental Dynamics,” which published her work. The Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology went beyond just the thinking: It gave her a cool $100,000 scholarship.

Isha Jain, is now a 10th-grader at Freedom High School in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Jain recently placed fourth in the Zoology category of the Intel International Science and Engineering Research Fair for her project, “Cell Proliferation is Episodic and Pulsatile During Growth of Zebrafish Fins”. The energetic sophomore researched fin growth at the “fish lab” at Lehigh University to increase understanding of development that could be applied to humans.

“My project involved looking at the rate of cell division within Zebrafish fin bone segments,” explains Jain. “The goal was to understand the pattern of bone growth in this model system. The Zebrafish serves as an excellent paradigm for human morphological development.”

Isha, who has always liked math and numbers, outlined the role that her math skills played in her research. “There were two mathematical components in my analysis. I integrated (using rectangular approximations) the data sets and compared the ratios in two different bone rays with the ratio of their volumes. Also, to statistically verify the results, the F-ratio test statistic and the computer program Minitab was used.”

In addition to the prestigious Intel award, Isha has also garnered a United States Air Force 2nd place award, the Endocrine Society Honorable Mention Award and the Cook Group Incorporated award. Cook is the leading manufacturer of non-invasive medical devices and has offered Isha an internship to work on genetic experiments.

Isha won the PA State 24 Challenge Championship Finals in 2003, competing at the Platinum Masters level. Her sister, Raina, was also a PA State winnner in 2004.

Left, 15-year-old Isha plans to continue her research by analyzing fin growth mutants and the gene expressions of associated growth markers. Right, a young Isha hoists the 2003 PA State Platinum Masters trophy she won in Harrisburg.

Photos © 2006 Suntex International Inc. / Isha Jain