The Santa Cruz County Science & Engineering Fair continues to grow and attract more students. This year, Science & Engineering Fair moved to a new location at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds, to accommodate 485 student participants and 145 volunteers and judges. The 24th Annual Santa Cruz County Science & Engineering Fair was held on March 13th. The new venue provided ample room to feature all the student project displays, interviews by judges, and mass sharing of exciting research with peers and the community.
New science fair categories were also added this year to align our fair with the California State Science & Engineering Fair and provide more opportunities for students to receive recognition. Product Science, Energy and Power, Cognitive Sciences, and Electronics and Electromagnetics were the new categories featuring student discoveries. Sarah Stoner-Nicolosi, a student from Boulder Creek Homeschool, entered the Cognitive Science Category with her project, "The Mystery Spot - Illusion or Anomaly?". Her conclusion was that that the Mystery Spot is really a "trick of the eye" but more research was needed to validate her findings. Aiden Largay, a primary student from San Lorenzo Valley Elementary, investigated the best angle position for a solar panel to produce the most electricity. His project, "Solar Panels: Angle and Power", illustrates that even our youngest students have valuable inquiry skills with far reaching potential for society.
The night before the actual competition, judges preview student projects and begin evaluating the scientific thought, data presentation and analysis. One of the judges said, "These projects continue to amaze me. If Iím not mistaken, I believe that this yearís work is a cut above anything I have seen before." We do know that student participation has increased by 300% over the past five years. The increase in student participation allows more of our community to experience the value of this work by supporting and mentoring our students in the classroom.
At the March 22, 2010, Science & Engineering Fair Awards ceremony, 212 students received over $14,000 in monetary awards from Seagate Technology. Seagate also will donate $100 to each of the 68 students who qualified to attend the 2010 California State Science & Engineering Fair in Los Angeles.
In addition, seven 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-stake scholarships and international recognition.
Based on our county's high participation rate and award winning status over the years, Santa Cruz County is allotted 40 project entries in 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 beach erosion on the Santa Cruz Harbor jetty. 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 tenth year, Santa Cruz County students will attend the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF). One of our students returning again this year previously earned a grand prize award and recognition. Santa Cruz High School student Shamik Mascharak received the county fair "Overall Award Winner of 2010" for his impressive project titled "An Investigative Study on Pigmented Gallstones." His replicable research has important medical implications especially in Asian, Native American and Mexican populations where the disease is prevalent. See more information on the ISEF projects.
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 Technology, the Santa Cruz County Office has been able to grow the science fair program, entice more young people to scientific exploration, and enable them 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!
Thank you to Connie Benton for the wonderful photographs.