Students compete in diocesan science fair

Friday, Feb. 17, 2017
Students compete in diocesan science fair + Enlarge
Hundreds of students from schools all around the diocese showcased their science projects during the diocesan fair on Feb. 11.
DRAPER — The gymnasium of Juan Diego Catholic High School was packed with students and their projects, the polished floor hidden under hundreds of tables topped with poster boards for the Knights of Columbus Diocesan Science Fair on Feb. 11, which called young scientists together from all across the diocese to showcase their scientific talents.
This year, the science fair had two big changes: group projects from non-Catholic schools were allowed, and the judges included people with professional experience in math or science, rather than only members of the Utah Knights of Columbus, who had been the judges in the past, said Vicky Simpson, the fair’s co-coordinator.
Using the same form employed at the Salt Lake Valley Science and Engineering Fair, to which the top projects will advance, the diocesan science fair judges looked “at the parts of the scientific method: the hypothesis, the use of resources, design and procedure, data, the students’ interviews and displays, and results,” Simpson said.
The judges paced through the maze of poster boards and scrutinized all the projects exhibited by the young scientists. Some were presented in a serious and businesslike manner, sporting complex figures that covered the project board and bore titles like “Electrolysis of Water” or “Bioluminescence: Variations in the Brightness of P. Fusiformis.” Some took a more lighthearted approach, with project boards splashed in bright colors and titles screaming, “Can Rocks Dance?,” “Egg and Go Seek” and “Are You Eating Nails for Breakfast? There’s Iron in your Cereal!”
Karl Schriewer, a junior from Juan Diego Catholic High School, paired with Dr. Grzegorz Bulaj, from the College of Pharmacy in the University of Utah, for his project, “Music as an Adjunct Theory for Mental Disorders.” 
“Most of [my project] was listening to music, analyzing it, listening to what parts of it affect the brain the most,” Schriewer said; for the project, Bulaj “took the science side; I was the music side.”
Every project was judged in a specific category, such as biology, engineering, or medical science. Each grade competed with their own year. 
Awards for high school students were given to the overall best project, rather than in individual categories. 
Students competed in their local school fair prior to the diocesan fair.
This year, 15 high school students and 75 middle school students from the diocesan science fair qualified for the regional Salt Lake Valley Science and Engineering Fair, Simpson said.
The top two awards went to Judit Trujillo of St. Francis of Xavier Catholic School, who won the specialty award for astronomy; and Nicolette Miller of J.E. Cosgriff Memorial Catholic School, who took home the Young Scientist of the Year award.
All the kids who attended the fair benefitted from it, Simpson said. 
“There’s two parts to it,” she said. “Part one is science. It gives them an opportunity to be young scientists. Also, I think it gives [students] the life skills they need to know. … They can present things scientifically to adults and defend their positions.” 
These skills will stick with them no matter what path they choose in life, Simpson said.
(Editor’s note: the list of winners from the diocesan science fair will be published in the Feb. 24 Intermountain Catholic.)
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