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Maya Tang ’25 is a Broadcom MASTERS Finalist

Broadcom Foundation and the Society for Science named freshman Maya Tang as a finalist in the Broadcom MASTERS® — the nation's premier STEM middle school competition. As one of 30 finalists, she will present her eighth-grade science fair project — How Do Mask Types and Instrument Covers Affect Aerosol Spread and Sound Level During Music Performance?– in the virtual competition and compete in science and engineering challenges from October 22-28, 2021. The challenges leverage Project-based Learning to test and demonstrate their mastery of 21st Century skills of critical thinking, communication, creativity and collaboration in each of the STEM areas.

About Maya's Project

Music performance is an important part of Maya’s life. At the beginning of the pandemic, her music school closed for several months, and when it reopened, all of her classes were virtual. Hathaway Brown's Music classes were moved outdoors, even in colder temps. Maya decided to study if singing and playing wind instruments could be done safely indoors using face coverings and instrument covers and whether the coverings would muffle the sound of either.

For the singing portion of her research, Maya selected gaiter, cotton, surgical, and N95 masks as well as a plastic face shield. For the woodwind portion, she used a recorder with and without a fabric cover. As a surrogate for the coronavirus, she chose a powder that can be viewed under ultraviolet light and is the same size (5 microns) as the virus. A person then sang Happy Birthday five times, once while wearing each mask type and then once without a mask as a control.

Each time, Maya measured how far the powder spread. Without a mask, it spread 41.2 cm, with a gaiter mask it spread 14.2 cm and with all other masks there was no spread. Using a sound meter, she found that the cotton and surgical masks did not affect sound of the voice. She had similar results with the recorder. If further testing confirms her findings, Maya believes, masks and covers could allow singing and the playing of wind instruments to be done safely in schools.

About Broadcom MASTERS

Broadcom MASTERS (Math, Applied Science, Technology and Engineering for Rising Stars), a program founded and produced by the Society for Science, seeks to inspire young scientists, engineers and innovators who will solve the grand challenges of the future. The Broadcom MASTERS is the only middle school STEM competition that leverages Society-affiliated science fairs as a crucial component of the STEM talent pipeline. Only the top 10 percent of 6th, 7th, and 8th-grade projects entered into Society-affiliated fairs around the country are eligible to apply.

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