Daniel won not only for his project on how the force of waves affects life in tidepools, but also for his performance in a set of interviews and exercises designed to test his wide-ranging knowledge of science against that of 29 other young scientists from around the nation.
The competition, Broadcom MASTERS (Math, Applied Science, Technology and Engineering for Rising Stars), is for sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders and was developed by the Society for Science & the Public, the same organization that is behind the prestigious Intel Science Talent Search for high school students.
Applicants for the competition had to finish in the top 10 percent in science fairs in their state. A total of 1,475 entered and 30 finalists were chosen from that group.
Daniel and his mom, Christina Feeny, a chemical engineer who works with underrepresented students in the Summer Math and Science Honors program, both got a trip to Washington, D.C., for the competition from Sept. 30 to Oct. 4.
"The kids were really obviously kids who loved science — all of them," says Christina Feeny. After spending all day doing science together, at night "all the kids wanted to do was hang around together," Christina says.
Daniel's project had won at his school, at the county level, the regional level and at the state level, but he did not expect to win the Broadcom competition.
"He told me all the students were so smart and their projects were so good, he felt very honored to have been chosen as the first-place winner," Christina Feeny says.
Daniel is the youngest of five children, and the fourth in his family to attend Phillips Academy in Andover, where he is a freshman. That made the win all the sweeter, his mom says, when Daniel realized he had finally accomplished something none of his older siblings had done.
Mom was a little surprised, too. She has no photos of Daniel receiving his award, because "when he won I was so shocked I didn't even have my camera ready," she says.
His father, Curtis Feeny, is the managing director at Voyager Capital.
Woodside Elementary and Yogi Sullivan, Daniel's eighth-grade science teacher, will also benefit from his win. The school will get $1,000 and a plaque recognizing Daniel's achievement. Mr. Sullivan will receive $625 in Walmart gift cards in addition to a $500 gift card to spend on the science classroom.