It’s almost time for the third annual Broadcom MASTERS competition, which means the 30 budding scientists and engineers who were named finalists last month are getting ready to descend on Washington, D.C., for a week-long adventure in the living history lab that is the nation’s capital.

Guided by dozens of Broadcom volunteers and led by Paula Golden, Executive Director of the Broadcom Foundation, the young scholars will spend their time in Washington engaged in intensive problem-solving  hands-on competitions as they compete for cash awards, prizes and bragging rights in the Broadcom Foundation’s flagship national STEM (science, engineering, technology and math) competition.

MASTERS finalists
Broadcom MASTERS finalists compete in a STEM activity

There’s high stakes involved: the First Place winner will receive a $25,000 award from the Samueli Foundation, a gift from Broadcom Co-Founder, Chairman and Chief Technical Officer Henry Samueli and his wife, Susan. Another high-scoring scholar will receive the $10,000 Marconi/Samueli Award for Innovation. Other stand-out competitors will receive stays at a STEM summer camp and a chance to be selected among the U.S. delegates in the 2014 International Broadcom MASTERS competition.

And while the students will be working hard during their all-expenses-paid trip, they won’t spend the whole time working with chemistry formulas and robotics.  The itinerary also provides the scholars a chance to blow off a bit of steam, bond as friends, and learn the finer points of American history.  The schedule is packed with opportunities for the young scholars to explore some of America’s most iconic national monuments and historic sites, including: The Washington Monument, the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History, the U.S. Capitol and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, where the scholars will attend a performance of the musical “Sheer Madness.”

In addition, among a retinue of planned side-trips is one that may emerge as the week’s extra-curricular highlight:  a “Ghost Tour” of Old Town Alexandria, Virginia.

The finalists, 14 girls and 16 boys, are among the nation’s top young STEM students.  As Broadcom MASTERS participants, they will be vying for top recognition for projects demonstrating their critical thinking skills and expertise in a STEM discipline.

Hailing from public and private schools in 17 states, the students submitted projects covering a diverse range of science and engineering areas, including, “The Elements of Fluorescence” (Emma Burnett, of Pittsburgh, Penn.), “Quantum Locking: The Future of Frictionless Motion” (Julienne Sauer, of San Ramon, Calif.), and “When Carrots Turn Green—Literally!,” (Nathaniel Sperry, of Falls Church, Va.).

The week culminates with and awards ceremony and formal dinner at the prestigious Carnegie Institution for Science, where the scholars will also hear a keynote address by CIA intelligence officer and NASA astronaut Jeanette Epps.

The Broadcom MASTERS is sponsored in conjunction with the Broadcom Foundation and Society for Science & the Public (SSP), and showcases students’ budding interests in STEM subjects.