Science Fair Uncaps Hidden Talent - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Science Fair Uncaps Hidden Talent

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St. Joseph's Academy sophomore Allie Young displays her project at the La. Science and Engineering Fair, which tested wooden chopsticks in Baton Rouge venues for harmful bleach levels. St. Joseph's Academy sophomore Allie Young displays her project at the La. Science and Engineering Fair, which tested wooden chopsticks in Baton Rouge venues for harmful bleach levels.
Baton Rouge Magnet senior Joshua Springer displays his quadrotor at the Louisiana Science and Engineering Fair at LSU. Baton Rouge Magnet senior Joshua Springer displays his quadrotor at the Louisiana Science and Engineering Fair at LSU.
Trevail Bolden, freshman at Lighthouse Christian Academy in Abbeville, said his favorite part about presenting his work is the "adrenaline rush." Trevail Bolden, freshman at Lighthouse Christian Academy in Abbeville, said his favorite part about presenting his work is the "adrenaline rush."
Tucker Baker describes his month-long study of the effects of environment change on academics by gender. Tucker Baker describes his month-long study of the effects of environment change on academics by gender.
Caddo Parish Magnet's Ethan Skaggs collects his trophy for second-overall winner at the Louisiana Science and Engineering Fair at LSU. Caddo Parish Magnet's Ethan Skaggs collects his trophy for second-overall winner at the Louisiana Science and Engineering Fair at LSU.

By Sarah Lawson | LSU Student

Passing through the long rows of hundreds of project setups in LSU's Cotillion Ballroom, high school students could be heard discussing everything from bird anatomy to oil spill cleanup, their eyes on shiny trophies, cash awards, even a trip to Los Angeles.

They jerked as passers-by rounded the corners near their display boards, anxious their judgment time had arrived.

LSU Continuing Education hosted the Louisiana Science and Engineering Fair senior level in its Student Union. Winners of the state's regional fairs made it to the state competition at LSU where some qualified for the International Science Fair in Los Angeles to be held in May.

The junior level competed the day before.

Steve Richard, Comeaux High School junior from Youngsville, let out a loud whoop when the emcee announced judging was over. His project centered on the benefits of Duckweed, the green carpet-like vegetation that covers many lakes and ponds.

"Duck weed grows in all our lakes and ponds — it's the smallest [flowering plant] known to man," said Richard as he likened the foliage's size to his pen tip.

Projects topics ranged from Houma Junior High freshman Mary Burlette's laundry detergent test to a flyable quadrotor.

Girls ruled the high school competition, winning the majority of the category and special award sections. All-girls school St. Joseph's Academy in Baton Rouge took the top school award for most total points.

Kevin Grobman, LSU assistant psychology professor and science fair organizer, said entry quality has improved in the five years he's proctored the event.

"Every year the projects are extraordinary. It's amazing what the high school students can do, especially when they get to state. Even over the last five years, there's been an improvement in statistical and mathematical rigor," Grobman said. "Every year there are different hot topics. A lot of people focus on things that have been in the news."

This year's most common themes included teenagers and texting while driving and multiple projects assessing localized effects of the BP oil spill.

And some of the topics were so practical, they are already being put to good use.

Sixteen-year-old Tucker Baker's findings are being utilized by his teachers at Holy Savior Menard High School in Alexandria. Baker, who won a special award and second place in behavioral science, studied the effect of environment changes on students by gender.

As he changed room temperatures, layouts and teacher positions over a month, he recorded student responses to their comfort levels. Now, one of his teachers asks students in what areas of the room they learn better before settling seating arrangements.

Trevail Bolden, a freshman at Lighthouse Christian High School in Abbeville, came with a complicated subject: the nematostella vectensis. But he really showed off the hunting patterns of a starlet sea anemone.

"I've been doing science fair since sixth grade. The first time I did it I went to state. I like that feeling — it's like an adrenaline rush," said Bolden of the judging.

Joshua Springer, Baton Rouge high senior and son of Jeff and Jane Springer, spent 300 hours constructing his creation for electrical/mechanical engineering — a working quadrotor. But it was hard to tell if he was more exhausted from his lengthy preparation and judging process or his multiple trips to the stage for awards.

"It flies a lot like a helicopter," said Springer of his contraption with two crossed rods and four propellers. "There's a lot of things you have to control really accurately that a human can't do. So I got a microprocessor to do it."

In his exhibition, he explained he built and programmed the project himself, but he expressed his anxiety about competing with projects that took years to develop, like one student who conducted experiments on bone disease or Young's chopstick experiment she started in August 2010.

"You know, how are you going to go against that?" Springer said. "I don't feel bad about getting beat by them."

Springer, Young and Junru Yan, the Benjamin Franklin High School student from New Orleans who worked with osteosarcomas, would all take first place in their respective categories.

SENIOR LEVEL WINNERS:

Animal Sciences:

1st — Alexandra Badeaux, Catholic High School - New Iberia

2nd — Morgan L. DeCuir, St. Joseph's Academy

3rd — Channing B. LaLande, South Cameron High School

Behavioral / Social Sciences:

1st — Marianne V. Konikoff, Our Lady of Mercy School

2nd — Tucker J. Baker, Holy Savior Menard Central High School

3rd — Callie Johnson, St. Joseph's Academy

Biochemistry:

1st — Yoonjee Kim & Daniel Felty, Caddo Parish Magnet High School

2nd — Margaret C. Talbot, St. Joseph's Academy

3rd — Anna E. Nesterova, Baton Rouge Magnet High School

Cellular / Molecular Biology:

1st — Clair L. Chapman, St. Joseph's Academy

2nd — James A. Young, Caddo Parish Magnet High School

3rd — N'Desha T. Scott, C.E. Byrd High School

Chemistry:

1st — Allie C. Young, St. Joseph's Academy

2nd — Boyang Piao, Cedar Creek School

3rd — Luke A. White, Caddo Parish Magnet High School

Computer Science:

1st — Taylor Adams & Brianna Crabtree, John Ehret High School

2nd — Daniel N. Wheeler, Caddo Parish Magnet High School

3rd — Sahil H. Patel, Haynes Academy School for Advanced Studies

Earth / Planetary Science:

1st — Melissa A. Guarisco, St. Joseph's Academy

2nd — Ayla D. Miller, Benjamin Franklin High School

3rd — Sarah Use, H.L. Bourgeois High School

Engineering: Materials, Bioengineering:

1st — Neesha Siriwardane, Ruston High School

2nd — Olivia S. Campbell, Lighthouse Christian High School

3rd — Philipe M. Gilchrist, John Curtis Christian School

Electrical / Mechanical Engineering:

1st — Joshua D. Springer, Baton Rouge Magnet High School

2nd — Clark R. Pierce, Ruston High School

3rd — Cole C. Weinland, Caddo Parish Magnet High School

Environmental Management:

1st — Rithika M. Thirumal & Samantha Biddick, Ovey Comeaux High School

2nd — Annie C. Talbot, St. Joseph's Academy

3rd — Eileen DeLeo, St. Joseph's Academy

Energy & Transportation:

1st — Kinga J. Malkinska, Benjamin Franklin High School

2nd — Caleb G. Gestes, John Curtis Christian School

3rd — Warner T. King, home schooled

Environmental Sciences:

1st — Mitchell G. Hartley, John Curtis Christian School

2nd — Alaina B. Leggette, St. Joseph's Academy

3rd — Caroline E. Grand & Caroline Focht, St. Joseph's Academy

Mathematical Sciences:

1st — Ruth A. Bishop, Caddo Parish Magnet High School

2nd — Frank H. Luo, Baton Rouge Magnet High School

3rd — Caitlin T. Mikesell, Hahnville High School

Medicine / Health Sciences:

1st — Junru Yan, Benjamin Franklin High School

2nd — Justine Ker, Cedar Creek School

3rd — Michael C. McDowell & Elly Bringaze, Catholic High School - Baton Rouge

Microbiology:

1st — Ethan T. Skaggs, Caddo Parish Magnet High School

2nd — Catherine A. Vanchiere, Loyola College Preparatory School

3rd — Maggie Wakefield, St. Joseph's Academy

Physics & Astronomy:

1st — Jeffrey A. Parrozzo, Academics Etc.

2nd — Henry Lin, Caddo Parish Magnet High School

3rd — Morgan A. Miller, St. Joseph's Academy

Plant Sciences:

1st — Ashley N. Schoonmaker, St. Joseph's Academy

2nd — Katie A. Chiasson & Brianna Bourgeois, St. James High School

3rd — Abigail J. Olinde, Benjamin Franklin High School

Top School: St. Joseph's Academy

Overall Winners:

1st — Biochemistry: Yoonjee Kim & Daniel Felty, Caddo Parish Magnet

2nd — Microbiology: Ethan T. Skaggs, Caddo Parish Magnet

Special Awards:

American Meteorological Society — Alexandra K. Badeaux, Morgan L. DeCuir

ASM Materials Education Foundation — Philipe M. Gilchrist

Intel Excellence in Computer Science — Bohyung K. Park

International Sustainable World Project Olympiad — Carrington C. Cain

Iota Sigma Pi — Allie C. Young

Louisiana Science Teachers Assoc. — 1. Tucker J. Baker, 2. Emily N. Covington, 3. Marianne V. Konikoff, 4. Sujung Lee

Louisiana Assoc. of Mathematics Teachers — 1. Caitlin T. Mikesell, 2. Ruth A. Bishop, 3. Sujung Lee

Louisiana Mosquito Association — Morgan L. DeCuir

Mu Alpha Theta — Joshua D. Springer

National Assoc. of Professional Engineers — Joshua D. Springer

Society for In-Vitro Biology — Trevail Bolden

U.S. Air Force — 1. Jade A. Spears, 2. Yoonjee Kim, 3. Mason G. DeLapp

U.S. Army — Carrington C. Cain, Warner T. King, Joshua D. Springer, Junru Yan

U.S. Metric Assoc. — Annie C. Talbot

Yale Science and Engineering Assoc. — Rithika M. Thirumal

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