Amari’ Walker grew up in Pender County, NC. She is currently 17 years old and enrolled at Pender HS. She attended Elementary School at Malpass Corner and Middle Schools at West Pender Middle. She has lived in Pender county her whole life. She is passionate about cheerleading, crafting, and school and also owns her own business making cell phone and Airpod cases.
Sai Varanasi is an NC Science and Engineering Fair Alumna who lived in Pinehurst, NC through her middle school years. She now lives in Chapel Hill. A graduate of the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics (NCSSM), Sai is a second year mechanical engineering student at Georgia Tech where she is involved in research and also holds a position as a TA. While her professional interests focus on Energy and Sustainability, in her personal time she likes to bake and to play the tabla (Indian subcontinent Hand Drums).
Abe (Abraham) Harris is currently a 4th grade student at Lacy Elementary. His favorite thing to do is to play football. On his flag football team he plays center. One of his favorite things to eat is Gouda cheese.
When thinking about what initially got him interested in science Abe credited his parents, but also noted that he feels that when he engaged in science in school it is more interactive than math and reading which makes it fun for him. He is especially interested in physics and enjoys thinking about how it impacts sports.
Ana Ratanaphruks grew up in the triangle area in Morrisville, NC and is a recent graduate of Wake STEM Early College and also the online program at the NC School of Science and Mathematics (NCSSM). As a child Ana was very interested in the arts and humanities and did not like science and math. She attributes this disinterest to having had a limited understanding of what STEM entails, specifically associating STEM with robotics and microscopes. As a young adult entering college her interests have evolved significantly and she now is interested in engineering fields and particularly likes materials science, applied mathematics, and industrial engineering. She appreciates having had early access to courses at NC State University as part of her early college experience, finding the courses challenging and the opportunity to meet a lot of people enjoyable.
Lauryn Sanders is a rising sophomore at North Wake College and Career Academy. Though she is in 10th grade, Lauryn has already been working as a volunteer at Marbles Kids Museum for 4 years. When asked about her experience with Marbles Teen Play Corps, Lauryn commented:
“I love kids and I love science. Being able to encourage kids through play is something that I love. I have been doing it for 4 years and I hope to continue doing it and some day work there.”
In addition to school and her volunteer work, Lauryn also participates in Girl Scouts and the MSEN pre-college program through the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation at NC State University. A participant in MSEN since 6th grade, Lauryn enjoys her time spent at Saturday Academies and in the summer camps.
Daniel Haller grew up in Waxhaw, NC (Union County) and attended Marvin Ridge High School just south of Charlotte. While he remembers always loving science, he has many other passions which round out his life. In middle school he explored his love for music by learning to play the clarinet. He remembers noticing a high school student with an oboe which piqued his curiosity. It was then that he made the change over to the oboe and has been playing ever since. Daniel also has a passion for reading and writing. Upon selecting his major area of focus for college, Daniel considered career possibilities in Oboe performance and authorship, but ultimately selected a focus in the sciences. In reflecting on this, Daniel remarked that, “pursuing all of your interests is important as they all contribute to your knowledge base regardless of which field you land in professionally.”
Daniel’s passion for science was sparked at an early age through everyday life with a mother and father who work as engineers. A dinner conversation which focused on atoms was not an unusual occurrence in the Haller home. He feels lucky to have them in his life and attributes his early consideration of a career in science to their supporting presence.