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Bollt to compete at Intel ISEF for second consecutive year

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POTSDAM - For many aspiring scientists and engineers, one trip to the prestigious Intel International Science and Engineering Fair would be an impressive accomplishment, but Scott Bollt from Potsdam will be making his second trip to the fair this year.

Mr. Bollt, a sophomore at Potsdam Central High School, qualified for the event by earning one of three qualifying spots at the Ying Tri-Region Science and Engineering Fair held last month at Onondaga Community College in Syracuse.

In addition to qualifying for next month’s science fair, Mr. Bollt said he was one of two students to be named a Ying Scholar. He also received a certificate of achievement from the Society of Professional Engineers.

The $1,000 scholarship was separate from the science fair, Mr. Bollt said, noting he had to complete a separate application and do a presentation to defend his project, which this year was an inflatable aircraft made from mylar balloons.

“The idea behind it was to create a small airplane that could be stored in a small space, such as someone’s pocket that could be used for various purposes,” he said.

By attaching a small, lightweight camera to it, Mr. Bollt said the plane could be used in search and rescue missions or in police work. He also said that he believes the plane could be used during a mission to Mars.

Another, non-scientific, but commercially viable use could include recreational purposes, as a virtually unbreakable radio-controlled airplane.

Mr. Bollt said his project has not yet reached that stage, and at this point, is really more of a glider than a plane, noting it has to be thrown in order to fly.

By adjusting the elevator and tail fins on the plane, Mr. Bollt said he can control what direction the plane will fly once thrown.

By the time he is done with the plane, which he acknowledged won’t be until after next month’s science fair he is hoping to be able to fly the plane and control its steering while it’s in flight.

“Anyone who flies model airplanes worries about crashing them and you will crash,” he said, explaining repairs can be expensive.

When asked what his expectations were for next month’s science fair, Mr. Bollt compared predicting a win there to predicting that you would win a Nobel Prize.

“Doing well is getting there,” he said. “There are seven or eight projects there that are just amazing. Saying you’re going to win at ISEF is like saying you’re going to win a Nobel Prize.”

High school Principal Joanne Chambers said she’s not surprised by his success.

“Scott is an exceptional student with an insatiable curiosity and a love of learning that is inspirational to his classmates, his teachers, and to me,” she said. “His critical thinking skills raise the level of discussion in every class, and everyone at Potsdam High School is so proud of all he has accomplished.”

Mr. Bollt said he’s looking forward to continuing to compete in science fairs at both the local, and hopefully the national level during the remainder of his high school career.

“There’s no guarantee I’ll get back there, but I’ll try,” he said.

Mr. Bollt is the son of Erik and Elizabeth Bollt of Potsdam.

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