Evan Chen: Whiz Kid

At his first state science fair, Evan Chen confirms tennis and debate team aren’t his only interests.

Gone are the days when model volcanoes are the big hits at science fairs. Evan Chen, a senior at Wayzata High School, made his mark last spring at the Minnesota State Science and Engineering Fair with an in-depth look at muscular dystrophy.

Chen’s research and skill in breaking down how muscles break down earned him a nod as a state finalist. That won him an all-expenses-paid trip last May to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Los Angeles. His state appearance also won him the BioGENEius Challenge Award, which meant he went to the U. S. National BioGENEius Challenge at Washington D.C. in June. With a total of three awards, Wayzata High has never had a student win so many.

Chen, the son of two computer technology specialists, spent the summer teaching English in Taiwan and catching up on sleep. “I’m so deprived of that during the normal school year,” he says, but it’s worth it. Look for his extended research this spring when he tries for top honors at the fair again. —Jessica Tam