Area students excel at science fair, three invited to apply to nationals
Salt Lake Valley’s 15th annual fair had 724 elementary through high school participants, a record number of students. (Julie Slama/City Journals)
Three area students not only competed, but also excelled at the recent Salt Lake Valley Science and Engineering Fair.
These three students, Churchill Jr. High’s Anthony Hill and Ellie de Groote and Wasatch Junior High’s Caroline Dalton, have been invited to apply to the national Broadcom Science Fair.
Fair Manager Jody Oostema said that 41 projects, or the top 10 percent of the Salt Lake Valley’s fair, receives invitations. From there, it is narrowed to about 300 semifinalists nationwide.
“We usually have two to six students reach semifinals and a few in the finals,” she said. “We’ve seen some new innovative ways to solve problems.”
Anthony’s project, “No Pressure: The Effects of Martian-Like Atmospheric Pressure on Enzyme Catalyzed Reactions in Plants,” won the plant sciences junior division category. He also won the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics junior division and U.S. Navy Junior Division Award.
Ellie’s science fair entry is called “The Power Inside Us.” She placed second in physics, astronomy and math junior division.
Caroline’s project was titled “Multiple Sclerosis Patients Feeling Frozen?”
Oostema said that this year, Salt Lake Valley’s fair had 724 elementary through high school participants, a record number of students, with 57 percent being female. That is an increase of about 500 students since 2005 and the number of projects this year is up 16 from last year to 573.
In addition to private and charter schools, the fair includes public school students from Salt Lake, Granite, Murray, Tooele, Park City and Canyons school districts.
Next year, the fair will undergo a name change to University of Utah Science and Engineering Fair, which will reflect the host school, Oostema said, adding that this year’s fair was inspiring.
“It’s an impressive fair and sometimes, I’m just blown away with what students come up with,” she said.
Two students, Vikrant Ragula and Kanishka Ragula from Skyline High School, led the senior division with their first-place finish in mechanical engineering. Their project was called “A Robotic Approach to De-Escalating Police/Civilian Interactions During Traffic Stops.” They also received awards from the U.S. Metric Association and the Utah Division of Transportation.
Their project, a robot that acts as an intermediary between the police officer and the civilian during traffic violation stops, also received $500 for the top online vote winner at the Utah High School Entrepreneur Challenge this past spring at the University of Utah’s Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute. The institute provides opportunities for students to learn about both entrepreneurship and innovation.
Also at the regional science fair, Skyline classmate David Zhong received first place in the plant sciences division for his project titled “A Quantitative Comparison of Water Consumption and Venation Between Normal and Damaged Leaves.” He also was honored with the U.S. Air Force Award.
Other junior high winners include Eleanor Frederick of Wasatch Junior High, behavioral and social sciences third place for “To Talk or Not to Talk, That is the Question”; Kambrielle Cruz of Olympus Junior High, chemical and physical energy fourth place for “Heat Sinks”; and Lahav Ardi of Churchill Junior High, plant sciences fourth place for “Effects of Color of Light on Lactuca Satvia Morphology and Metabolism.”
Elementary winners include Dallin Soukup, Cottonwood Elementary, physics, astronomy and math fourth place for “How Old is the Universe?”; Zoe McFarland, Driggs Elementary, mechanical engineering honorable mention for “Wonder Leash”; Emma Adams, Cottonwood Elementary, mechanical engineering honorable mention for “Fast or Friction?”; and Talmage How, Canyon View, earth and environmental sciences honorable mention for “How Does Temperature Inversion Affect Air Pollution?”