Santa Cruz County Science & Engineering Fair 2011
2011 Science & Engineering Fair Report
The Santa Cruz County Science & Engineering Fair continues to grow and attract more students. This year, the Science & Engineering Fair was again held at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds, to accommodate the 351 projects and 431 student participants from 50 schools throughout the County. The 25th Annual Santa Cruz County Science & Engineering Fair was held on March 12, 2011. Projects in the Primary/Elementary and Junior/Senior divisions were reviewed and student interviews were conducted by 145 volunteer judges, representing local scientists, university research staff, educators, and community partners. The venue provided ample room to feature all the student project displays, accommodated interviews by judges, and allowed for the dynamic sharing of student research.
Brittany Whitehill and Nettie Mitchell-Brudnick, High School students from San Lorenzo Valley HS, continued their research from last year in the Botany Category with their project, "Sudden Oak Death Part II: A Comparative Climatic Study.” Their conclusions have implications for future research at UC Berkeley where they will both be starting school in the Fall. The judges were especially impressed with their longitudinal data collection and the potential to help protect the environment. Bella and Lilly Nunes from Bradley Elementary investigated different methods of fingerprinting and Ximena Greatorex from Alianza Charter impressed judges with her project, “Binary Numbers.” These primary students illustrated 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, a Bio-Engineering Researcher at UCSC said, "I continue to be impressed by the level of complexity and sophistication that students of all ages are showing." Another judge commented how events like the Science & Engineering Fair give him hope for the future, “All scientists should be able to see the amazing things these kids are doing!” We do know that the increased student participation over the past three years means more of our community is experiencing the value of science and engineering. Partnerships with local colleges and universities have developed because of County Science & Engineering Fair and more schools are benefiting from the support and mentoring of students in the classroom.
At the March 21, 2011, Science & Engineering Fair Awards ceremony, 170 students received over $14,000 in monetary awards from Seagate Technology. 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. Seagate Technology funding also provided support for 38 students who qualified to attend the 2011 California State Science & Engineering Fair in Los Angeles. This year at the State Science & Engineering Fair, two or our Junior High students were awarded 2nd Place in their categories, one Senior High project
was awarded 4th Place in Zoology, and four other students received Honorable Mention awards.
In addition, two High School finalists were fully funded to attend the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF). ISEF provides a forum for more than 1500 students from 65 nations to compete for high-stake scholarships and international recognition. One of our County Science & Engineering Fair finalists, Alex Rinkert from San Lorenzo Valley HS, was awarded 3rd place in the Animal Sciences Category and $1,000 for college. His research project, “The Birds of the Santa Cruz Sand Hills” was recognized by judges as having an outstanding research design. He will be attending UC Santa Cruz next year and is majoring in Environmental Studies. Our other finalist, Damon Kawamoto from Pacific Collegiate School, presented her project, “Abundance Estimate of the Sacramento Chinook Salmon through the use of Genetic Data” to ISEF judges in the Mathematics Category. Her research provided her with the opportunity to work with UC Santa Cruz professors and NOAA Fisheries representatives. She will be attending Brown University next year and is majoring in Computer Science.
Students at our County Science & Engineering Fair also received awards from Plantronics, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the Armed Services, the Association of Women Geoscientists, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
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. Our County 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 Santa Cruz County Science & Engineering Fair is a leader in this State because of Seagate’s commitment and because of the many teachers, students, and community volunteers who are laying the groundwork for new solutions to the challenges of the 21st Century!
Science & Engineering Fair 2010 News