On April 20, five Foothill students participated in the 62nd Annual Ventura County Science Fair located on the Ventura County Fairgrounds, marking the first year that Foothill has participated.
Since early November, students in teacher Emily Hunt’s college prep chemistry class began researching their topic, and commenced experimentation after winter break. Sophomore Abigail Massar researched the flight of rockets, specifically basing her experiment on learning how different types of materials affect the rocket’s height.
Massar tested whether the 2-stage Theo II, or the lighter 1-stage Alpha III rocket would achieve a higher altitude in November. She discovered that the type of engine had more of an impact on the rocket’s altitude.
“I found that it doesn’t necessarily matter the materials to use in the rocket, more so the type of engine,” Massar said. She also based her conclusion off of the rocket’s weight affecting flight.
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Sophomore Andrew Shoup delved into Human Psychology, specifically researching synesthesia, which he describes as “a relationship between senses.”
Finally, on Wednesday, students attended the science fair, many not having attended one before.
“I didn’t know what to expect, I saw a lot of kids from Buena and Ventura,” Massar said. “It was a little bit intimidating, but once we got there, we got to talk to different schools, different people from different schools, they were really welcoming and it was a good learning experience.”
Later, she presented to two groups of judges, being evaluated based off of her presentation. Overall, Massar believed the science fair to be a good experience, even gaining inspiration for a botany focus later on.
“I got a lot of new ideas from other people who were there,” Massar said. “I noticed they had a section just for botany, which recently watching the movie The Martian, I’ve gotten more interested in that type of science, plant science, doing a recreation of The Martian, that controlled environment, using martian-like dirt, making your water from chemicals and then burning it, then growing potatoes from fertilizer would be a really cool experiment, see if that would actually work.”
Both Massar and Shoup stated that they would participate again in the science fair.
Being the first time Foothill has participated, Hunt enjoyed seeing the projects, though was surprised that not as many students wanted to go as she thought.
“There are always challenges and difficulties the first time that you do something,” Hunt said. “My original plan was to select the top projects to go, and I ended up with really great projects that went, but I found that not as many students wanted to go as I had hoped, so I went from a kind of position where I thought that I was going to have to weed out students, to more recruiting students to go, so that was a surprise.”
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Hunt has also given consideration to extending the science fair to students outside of her class.
“There’s a lot of different ways we could go about it, extending beyond my classes to have more students participate, or having Buena and Ventura all students that take chemistry go, or we could host our own science fair, each option has pros and cons,” Hunt said. She remarked that there were problems with the science fair, such as registration fees and the issue with transportation.
Despite the overall success with the students who attended, Hunt is still unsure of continuing subsequent years.
“I’m actually not sure. I’m looking into alternatives and thinking through the pros and cons, and I would like to talk to the other science teachers to get their feedback as well,” Hunt said.
Background Photo Credit: Sinjin Serrano / The Foothill Dragon Press