There’s a lot of talk about American schools and how they are falling behind their counterparts in Europe and Asia. Then there are some schools in San Jose which are producing a new generation of outstanding young scientists. On Wednesday, Intel named 300 high school students nationwide as semifinalists in its annual Science Talent Search competition. A record 26 students are from the South Bay, with two San Jose schools, Harker Academy and Lynbrook, accounting for fully half of the local semifinalists. Harker Academy produced seven intrepid researchers, while Lynbrook produced six.

The research by the students was often groundbreaking. One student, Rohan Mahajan, of Harker, came up with a way to produce hydrogen out of water using sunlight. His method is six times more efficient than similar methods currently used and could expedite the adoption of hydrogen as a fuel source. Jennifer Chen, of Lynbrook, developed a method to batch DNA tests. Police investigators can use her method to overcome a growing backlog of evidence needed for human identification.

Each of the students received a $1,000 check. The forty finalists will be announced on January 26. By passing this stage, the finalists will be eligible for the top honor and the $100,000 college scholarship that comes with it.
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