IMPERIAL – Triptychs, medals and smiles galore were the scene at the 2024 Imperial County Science Fair, held at the Imperial Valley Expo's Casa de Mañana building on Wednesday, January 17.
The 2024 science fair “was our biggest science fair since COVID” with seven local schools participating for a total of about 90 students and about 400 people, said Todd Fennell, Superintendent of Imperial County Schools.
“We want to make sure that there is an opportunity for every student to find a place where they can showcase and showcase the different skills and abilities that they have, but the most important thing is to give them a place to show off,” Fennell said. Find their passion, and hopefully that will be their “purpose and they embark on a career they love.”
“Some students really like this project-based opportunity rather than academic competition,” Fennell said. “We want to make sure there is an opportunity for every student to find their place and be able to participate.”
“It's amazing every year to see students put so much heart and soul into their projects…they turn on the light and talk about what they've done,” she said.
The students worked on their projects for about three months before the science fair in January, using the scientific method, said Vicente Ortiz, ICOE's director of student events.
In the Junior Division, students from Sealy Union Elementary, Heber Elementary, Dole Elementary (Calexico), Our Lady of Guadalupe Academy (Calexico), and St. Mary's School (El Centro) participated, while Central Union and Southwest High Schools participated in the Main Division.
Some of the 16 categories from which students had the opportunity to choose their projects were animal sciences, social and behavioral sciences, biochemistry, chemistry, computer science, engineering, bioengineering, environmental sciences, microbiology, physics and astronomy, and plant sciences, to name a few. . . Tip of the iceberg. A few.
“There are 16 categories to choose from, so using what they know and choosing a category, they can come up with a project,” Ortiz said.
“The (students) science fair is about applying the scientific method and the engineering and design process and bringing them together in a project,” he said. “Focusing on the science part really impacts the (student) community.”
Some schools have returned to participate in the science fair but have not done so in recent years, Ortiz said.
While their faces lit up when they announced that their projects had placed third, second or first in their categories and sections, and while proud parents applauded or took to the stage to capture their students' moment in a photograph, the students who participated in the science fair said they enjoyed it.
The last time I was at the science fair, I worked alone; “This was the first time I worked with two other people,” seventh-grader and St. Mary's student Zaheen Martinez said of his three-person project team for the science fair.
“It was a lot of fun,” he said. “I liked getting together at each other's houses so we could do the science project, and overall I liked it.”
Martinez said he and his two project partners, Luis Lafolle and Guillermo Enrique de Rivera, took second place in the novice division for their project in the Medicine and Health category.
“My group and I didn’t think we were going to get anything, so…it was very shocking for me and my group when we first heard it (the announcement that we were in second place),” he said.
The teenager said his project was “to find out if orange juice contains more electrolytes than any sports drink or energy drink.”
The three students “discovered that Minute Maid orange juice contains more electrolytes than Gatorade, Powerade and Body Armor,” Martinez said.
“The only sports drink that has more than Minute Maid is Prime,” Martinez said. “(Prime) had 10 more electrolytes than Minute Maid.”
Martinez said he “saw a lot of projects” from fellow Imperial County students who participated in the science fair, including some that looked “professional,” and it was the appeal of working together that made him want to participate.
“I wanted to do this because I don't spend a lot of time with my friends outside of school and I saw this as an opportunity to be with them more,” she said. “It worked.”
When asked if he would participate in the science fair again, the teenager replied: “I would.”
“Social media evangelist. Student. Reader. Troublemaker. Typical introvert.”