Photos by Erin Rodick / OUTLOOKScience National Honor Society members Alexandra Dudek, Melina Tsotras, Solenn Matuska, Justin Hyon, Kanyar Salahi and Micah SmythStudents, faculty and local scientists assembled in the La Cañada High School gym on Friday night for a Science Fair. Tri-fold posters adorned tables spread in an oval across the floor, displaying the results of experiments on subjects ranging from how stress affects handwriting to the effects of acid rain on freshwater environments.
“We created the Science National Honors Society this year because we wanted to put on interesting events,” said Micah Smyth, the club’s treasurer. “And the school hasn’t historically held an annual science fair.”
Nine projects were presented, all of which were evaluated by a panel of judges comprised of experts in several scientific specialties, including psychology, biology and engineering.
“We’ve been really excited about science in the district for a few years now,” said Shanti Roa, one of the judges and an optics engineer at Jet Propulsion Laboratory, adding that when La Cañada Unified School District’s science liaison Amy Nespor told her there was going to be a science fair, she “was enthusiastic about helping.”
All projects were assessed according to Los Angeles County’s Science Fair Guidelines, and the three winning projects will be submitted to the L.A. County Science Fair, said Karl Geckle, an LCHS chemistry teacher and the faculty adviser for the school’s chapter of SNHS.
Michael Lisano, whose project took first place, set out to find a more practical, less expensive way to launch objects into space.
“Humanity plans to colonize space in the near future, but it currently costs $90 million to launch a single ton of mass,” Lisamo said. “So if we’re going to build cities on Mars, that’s going to cost trillions of dollars.”
Sevana Wenn and Erin Buchanan, second-place winners, examined the spread of bacteria.
“I’ve always loved science,” Buchanan said. “We did a similar project in our biology class last year, but we wanted to expand on it.”
Added Wenn: “We incorporated the hand sanitizer because it’s flu season and there’s this big push to use it, and we wanted to test how effective it actually is.”
Ryan Choi, whose project was awarded third place, built a computer program that analyzes weather data in order to pinpoint ideal locations to place wind turbines. The results of his experiment not only accounted for the large wind farms in places like the San Francisco Bay Area and the Mojave Desert, but it also showed that turbines could be very effective offshore.
The Science Fair is one way the district has made science education a priority in recent years, Nespor said.
Monthly “Science Nights” are held at all four LCUSD campuses, and an Invention Convention will take place for grades 5-8 on March 13. A district-wide Maker Faire will be held at La Cañada Elementary on April 14, and Palm Crest Elementary will hold its own Science Fair on Feb. 21.