Students compete in virtual county science fair

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Sophomore Maya Neeranjun came up with her topic during the pandemic as she wanted a topic that was similar to COVID-19 and required a deep analysis. Her project evaluates the “effectiveness of deep learning models on the detection of pneumonia.” Her full YouTube video presentation can be found here. (Photo/Maya Neeranjun)

The school science fair presents students who have an interest in science with an opportunity to demonstrate their abilities and knowledge of the field. This year because of the pandemic, all science fairs had to be held virtually, the most recent one being the county science fair. 

The county fair ran virtually from Feb. 8-12 for the judges. Students submitted 10-minute videos explaining their presentations and their responses to questions given by judges through a Google document, which acted as their interview, by Jan. 29. Judges evaluated students’ video presentations and their submitted paperwork, including 12-page research reports and research plans, by a rubric provided by the county. 

Since, the fair last year was in-person, located at the Westfield Broward Mall, the transition to going virtual posed some difficulties. 

“I was very lucky this year to have outstanding students. They worked to find ways to conduct research even though there were several obstacles in their way,” Science and Engineering Fair Coordinator Mrs. Leya Joykutty said. “Incoming ninth graders did a literary project and others ran part of their projects at home and part in school and even others conducted in silico and bioinformatics experiments.” 

Students usually have to give real-life speeches in which they reference their tri-fold board presentations. However, this year, they were required to make a video based off of a PowerPoint. Judges also could not ask students questions about their projects so if they did not understand something, students could not clarify. 

Although the fair was conducted virtually this year, students initially prepared for an in-person fair like they usually would. Junior Prateek Gupta originally wanted to test the effect of eliminating the expression of HSP47, a gene used in collagen production, on Lung Adenocarcinoma, but during the summer, he, along with other students, realized they would have to continue their projects at home. 

“Although I couldn’t do the same project, I knew I wanted to continue working on the genetics of Lung Adenocarcinoma because it is one of the most unique lung cancers. Most lung cancers are seen primarily in smokers, but Lung Adenocarcinoma is seen almost equally in both smokers and non smokers, making it an interesting study to see what actually causes it,” Gupta said. “As a result, I decided that I wanted to conduct an in-depth analysis on the effects of different variables on the genome of Lung Adenocarcinoma. The data will hopefully one day be used to develop different treatments for Lung Adenocarcinoma by providing target genes necessary for new developments in gene therapy.”

Under the circumstances, the differences in the fair this year presented several obstacles for students. However, students such as seventh-grader Divyan Kannayan, whose project focused on identifying which type of metal is most resistant to corrosion when exposed to milk, claim that the experience was worth it.

“[It was an] exciting opportunity provided to us by AHS and Ms. Joykutty. [I] liked the process of preparing submittals, forms and presentations for submitting to the county fair for judging. [The] county fair has made me more excited about one of my favorite subjects: science,” Kannayan said.

Awards

First Place

Junior High

Aliyah Dania

Armaan Fatteh-Patil

Anneliese Hsiao

Laila Rozenberg

Elie Ciril

Senior High

Sharon Fernandez

Emilin Mathew

Prateek Gupta

Abdul-Jalil Dania (special award)

Megan Yang (special award)

Carla del Reio

Maya Neeranjum

Rohan Kumar

Second Place

Junior High

Gabriela Quatela

Divyan Kannayan

Maximus Callis (special award)

Heidi Klink

Senior High

Ellaheh Gohari

Third Place

Junior High

Anagha Iyer

Senior High

Anya Pinto

Angelin Mathew

Bhaveshsai Reddy (special award)

Fourth Place

Senior High

Larissa Ma (special award)

Illiana Bennett

Roshni Mishra

Nithisha, a sophomore at American Heritage, is starting her first year on newspaper staff. Besides writing and reading, Nithisha enjoys many artistic hobbies, like painting, sewing and crocheting. She spends most of her time either studying, pursuing one of her hobbies or watching "Gilmore Girls." A total book nerd, she tries to read as often and as many books as possible.

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