Boulder Valley School District

Hands on, real world learning on display

Randy Barber

BVSD students shine at the 2018 regional science fair

Young scientists filled an auditorium in the University Memorial Center on the campus of the University of Colorado at Boulder on February 22. They presented on topics such as early cancer detection, car hacking, and genetic mutations of bacterial strains that could help prevent antibiotic resistance in humans. 

These students are truly working on the problems humanity will be faced with in the near future.

The Corden Pharma Colorado Regional Science Fair featured middle and high school students from 21 BVSD schools. In all, more than 200 students participated. The theme for this year’s event was Stormy with a Chance of Science.

Vanessa Haggans, a junior at Fairview High, sought out to determine how plant growth will change in the future with different atmospheric and nutrient conditions. She measured plant species diversity in 28 plots with differing nutrient additives in the resource-poor dry meadow alpine community at Niwot Ridge. Her findings were based on treatments given to the plants from 2008 to 2017. Future research will seek to understand how plants will be affected in the future with warming temperatures.

Quinn Reece, a Boulder High student, found some previously undiscovered data a week before the science fair while working on his study on energetic particles and waves in the Earth’s radiation belts. His findings may end up being published in his mentor’s scientific paper. 

Parth Chudappa and AJeet Venkatesh, students at Monarch K-8, presented on a water filtration technique that they hope will lead to better water accessibility as drought conditions worsen globally. They agreed that science was fun. 
“We like trying out new stuff, getting our hands dirty and figuring out stuff,” Chudappa said. 
“And making friends, like him,” Venkatesh said with a smile pointing at his friend.

Of course, these are just a few examples of the incredible work that students are doing through their respective research seminar classes. BVSD is unique in that it has a mandatory funded research seminar class for each high school.

“This is a great thing, because unlike a traditional science lab, these students are getting to participate with authentic scientific research and all the trials and tribulations that come with it,” said Ryan O’Block, Boulder High science/research seminar teacher and science fair judge coordinator. “The experience is invaluable. They get to ask the questions and work with real scientists and learn how science happens in the real world.”

O’Block recommends his students find a mentor in Boulder’s robust science community. When working with a real scientist, they get to deal with some of the bureaucracy with paperwork, the technical aspects with it, and all the little stuff that takes years before they can write that paper, he said.
Thirty-five projects will move on to the Colorado Engineering and Science Fair in April in Fort Collins, and three projects will be selected for the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF) in May in Pittsburgh.

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Junior state science fair qualifiers
1. Kendyl Fanger, Peak to Peak
2. Sebastian Pujet, Southern Hills
3. Ethan Wurman, Summit Middle
4. Haiyan Wang, Summit Middle
5. Natalie Pujet, Southern Hills
6. Elizabeth (Alice) Petersen, Flagstaff Academy
7. Alexander Krammer, Summit Middle
8. Edward Wawrzynek, Summit Middle
9. Nathaniel Vercammenn, Flagstaff Academy
10. Aydin Gocemen, Peak to Peak
11. Team: Zoë Wagner, Boulder Country Day and James Tindle Boulder Country Day
12. Ainsley Crist, Peak to Peak
Senior state science fair qualifiers
1. Olivia Fross, Fairview High
2. Emma Perkins, Boulder High
3. Dylan Cantrell, Nederland Middle/Senior High
4. Team: Laila Buchler, Centaurus High and Rachel Fasbender Centaurus High
5. Jan Gradon, Fairview High
6. Sarah Tang, Fairview High
7. Rithwik Mylavarapu, Fairview High
8. Will Brown, Fairview High
9. John Quinn, Fairview High
10. Team: Brody Austin, Monarch High and Emily Locker Monarch High
11. MaryAnn Ho, Fairview High
12. Team: Emika Brown, Fairview High and Isabelle Rusk Fairview High
13. Elia Gorokhovsky, Fairview High
14. Bill Ray, Peak to Peak
15. Spoorthy Reddy, Fairview High
16. Team: Hailey Chapman, Monarch High and Valerie Warkins, Monarch High
17. Stephanie Zhang, Fairview High
18. Navami Manangi, Peak to Peak
19. Kyra Slovacek, Monarch High
20. Fionna Kopp, Boulder High
21. Kevin Yang, Fairview High
22. Team: Emily Soder, Centaurus High and Swami Velamala Centaurus High
23. Vanessa Haggans, Fairview High
Intel ISEF Qualifiers 
1. Kyra Slovacek, Monarch High 
2. Sarah Tang, Fairview High 
3. Stephanie Zhang, Fairview High 
Corden Pharma Colorado Junior Cup Award: Edward Wawrzynek, Summit Middle
Corden Pharma Colorado Best of Show Award: Kyra Slovacek, Monarch High


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