Students from New York City and its suburbs again took an outsized number of finalist slots in the annual Intel Science Talent Search, according to results released today.

Started in 1942 as the Westinghouse Science Talent Search, the contest identifies 40 top high school science students, based largely on independent research projects. Winners (who can earn up to $100,000) will be chosen once the finalists gather in Washington DC for interviews in March.

Longtime Intel/Westinghouse fixtures Stuyvesant High School and the Bronx High School of Science in the city had two finalists apiece, but Ward Melville in Long Island also produced two finalists. Three other New York state schools (John Jay High School, Smithtown High School West, and Roslyn High School) also chipped in to produce nine finalists for the Empire State. Only California, with five finalists, came close.

These whiz kids took part in typical after-school activities. You know, one "used graph theory to create a tri-color truncated icosahedron." Another "designed and synthesized a novel tumor-targeting conjugate drug for cancer treatment that she believes represents a new generation of chemotherapy agents." If you want to follow along, you can do so, fittingly, on Twitter and Facebook.

Followers of the expanding high school research prize circuit will also note a few familiar names on the list. Wen Chyan of the Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science won the $100,000 top individual prize in the Siemens Competition in December, and a few, including Christine Shrock (Ward Melville) and Philip Streich (homeschooled), were named Davidson Fellows in August by the Davidson Institute for Talent Development.

For more on where finalists end up, see our weekly "Where Are They Now" series.

Photo of the 2008 Intel Science and Engineering Fair winners by Ivan Oransky, copyright Scientific American