Santa Cruz County Science & Engineering Fair 2009
Science flourishes in Santa Cruz County schools
For the past twenty-three years, the Santa Cruz County Science & Engineering Fair has supported k-12 classroom teachers and students by promoting activities and events that engage students in scientific research. The Science & Engineering Fair is made possible by generous funding from Seagate Technologies, leadership from the Santa Cruz County Office of Education (SCCOE), and the tremendous volunteer effort of scientists, researchers, and educators. This year, the Santa Cruz County Science & Engineering Fair broke all previous student participation records. This is the exciting culmination of years of dynamic partnership between Seagate, the University of California at Santa Cruz, educators, scientists and community volunteers.
Over 2800 students participated this spring in 44 science fairs in Santa Cruz County schools. Of these participants, 426 students—from kindergarten to high school—went on to compete in seventeen scientific categories at the Santa Cruz County Science & Engineering Fair. These top projects were displayed and judged at the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium. One example of a creative and innovative project was "Dog Spit: The Next Industrial Lubricant," which answered the question: are there other substances that can be used as lubricants that we do not presently use? The rationale: there are thousands of dogs worldwide; most dogs produce large quantities of spit or drool; dog spit could be the next lubricant. Another outstanding project investigated what could become break-through research involving breast cancer cell detection.
At the 2009 Science & Engineering Fair Awards ceremony, students received over $14,000 in monetary awards from Seagate Technologies. Seagate also will donate $100 to each of the 52 students who qualified to attend the 2009 California State Science & Engineering Fair in Los Angeles.
In addition, four finalists will be fully funded to attend the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF). ISEF provides a forum for more than 1500 students from 54 nations to compete for high stakes scholarships and international recognition.
Students at our county science fair also received awards from Plantronics, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the Armed Services, the Society of Women Geoscientists, Intel for Excellence in Computer Science, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (Find detailed information on award winners here.)
Based on our high participation rate and award winning status over the years, Santa Cruz has grown from an allotted 18 project entries to 40 projects this year at the California State Science & Engineering Fair. Returning to the state science fair are two students who expanded a previous project to validate and mitigate the impact of humans on our local sea otter populations. The judges were especially impressed with their longitudinal data collection and the potential to help protect the environment. Clearly, the students participating in the Santa Cruz County Science & Engineering Fair are deeply involved in their research and provide all of us with new ways of thinking and the potential for solving serious societal and environmental problems.
For the ninth year, Santa Cruz County students will attend the International Science and Engineering Fair in Reno, Nevada. One of four students who earned a grand prize award and recognition from the Patent and Trade Mark Office in 2008 is returning again this year. Santa Cruz High School student Shamik Mascharak received the county fair “Overall Award Winner of 2009” for his impressive project titled "Synthesis of Fluorescent Silica Nanoparticles Conjugated with RGD Peptide for Detection of Invasive Human Breast Cancer Cells." His replicable research proved his hypothesis that FSNP-RGD conjugates are excellent imaging tools for the detection of invasive cancer cells.
Science & Engineering Fair affirms that when students have the opportunity to apply the scientific method to topics that truly intrigue them, they respond with fresh ideas and innovative research. Students continue to amaze our scientific community with thought provoking questions and enthusiastic, insightful approaches to investigating hypotheses. Through the support of the research and scientific community, and the partnership with Seagate Technologies, the Santa Cruz County Office has been able to grow the science fair program and entice more young people to scientific exploration and to lead their peers in finding new approaches to solving some of the most pressing problems in society.
The SCCOE celebrates the teachers, students, and community volunteers who are laying the groundwork for new solutions to the challenges of the 21st Century!