By Ian Adler
On February 25, five Red Lion students traveled to the Lincoln Intermediate Unit #12 in New Oxford to showcase their self-constructed project to judges and compete in various challenges. The Red Lion STEM team ending up taking first place in the regional competition and now they are on their way to the state competition to be held on May 27 in Lancaster.
“The STEM competition is a part of the Governor’s STEM Initiative,” Mentor-teacher Mr. Ben Smith said. “They had to create a project, using a $500 budget, that will improve the lives of everyday Pennsylvanians.”
Seniors Garrett Aguilar, Jen Owrutsky, Chris Balbier, and Gabriella Zarragoitia and junior Josh Kovacs prepared by researching and interviewing various engineers and companies in the local area. The entire process took place outside of classroom time, with the team often staying after school to complete their project.
“I thought it was cool because we got to use a real budget and we got to make something that’s real and actually affects the real-world,” Owrutsky said. “It was a good experience for when we’re going to be engineers in the future.”
With a real-world problem to solve, the team had to decide on what issues the average Pennsylvanian had to overcome on a daily basis.
“We sat down, brainstormed ideas and asked ‘what’s wrong with around here?’” Balbier said. “The first idea we thought of was pipes freezing in the winter because it gets too cold and we didn’t really know how to fix that. Obviously the roads are pretty terrible, so that was what we tried to fix.”
While at the competition itself, the team showcased their project and answered questions from judges, while also participating in the “mystery box event,” in which they could not prepare for.
“I feel like as a team, we really worked together,” Owrutsky said. “Especially for the on-site competition that we had.”
With their success in the regional competition, the STEM team now has a higher budget to design and build with, and they plan on conducting additional research to further improve the pothole-detecting prototype.
“If we win the whole thing, or if we place well, the scholarship money will be nice,” Balbier said. “I think that if we win the whole thing, we might possibly have an actual product that could be used by the state and by other states.”
The team’s success will shine bright for their future careers in STEM fields, with the seniors already committed to attending college for degrees in science and engineering.
“They really embrace young people in the community,” Owrutsky said. “So I think with being teenagers and seniors in high school I think we have a better opportunity right now to compete, win, and get recognized.”
“Like Mr. Smith always says, this country’s a million engineers short, so there’s room for the field to grow,” Zarragoitia said. “Young people have a lot of ideas that they can bring to the table.”
By Ian Adler
As the York County Science Fair approaches, students scramble to construct, decorate, and assemble their science fair boards. February means crunchtime for many students, but before students can enter the county fair, they’re screened through the Red Lion Science Fair.
The Red Lion fair was held on January 29 and 30. The first round of judging took place on the 29, the second round on the 30, followed by an open house and awards ceremony later in the day.
“One of the things that we wanted to do was increase the number of students that get to the York County fair but also increase the quality of the projects that get to the county fair,” chemistry teacher and Science Fair Club adviser Mrs. Valerie Stone said. “If they have to go through our fair first, that hopefully prepares them and gives them a little bit more time to regroup before the county fair.”
The Red Lion Science Fair is in its second year of operation. Last year, 198 boards representing about 200 students were on display, and this year it has decreased to 150 boards with about 160 students, but this statistic is really dependent on student enrollment in certain science courses.
In the Junior Division, Austin Kutcher earned Grand Champion and Rachel Helt earned Reserve Grand Champion. In the Senior Division, John Brownsword earned Grand Champion and Hannah Eisenhart-Seitz earned Reserve Grand Champion.
While the Red Lion fair offers a considerable amount of help to students preparing for the county fair, it is different in a few respects.
“In the Red Lion fair, we only judge the board and the notebook, so we don’t interview the students,” Mrs. Stone said. “At the County Fair, a big part of it is the interview.”
Some students feel that the elimination of the interview helps them out, but Mrs. Stone feels otherwise.
“For our fair, your board and notebook have to really speak for you, so they have to be pretty good quality,” Mrs. Stone said. “That means your board has to really tell your story.”
With participation in the science fair required for the first three years of honors science classes, some students dread the upcoming responsibilities, while others handle it with ease. This year’s projects focused on sports-oriented tests, material studies, and even proving common biology myths, just to name a few.
The duo of juniors Glori Keough and Larissa Herbert are testing Daphnia’s (water fleas) reaction to synthetic Red 40 dye and natural red beet juice.
“We’re seeing if the Red 40 raises the heart rate because it’s known to cause hyperactivity in kids,” Keough said. “For the second part of the project, we’re doing a chromatography of the dyes to see what they look like.”
“A lot of people are worried about what ingredients are going into their food, and the amount of kids with ADHD and hyperactivity have increased a lot over the years,” Keough added. “Some people think it’s linked to red food dye, like Red 40, so we just wanted to see if that’s legit.”
Junior Hailey Kutcher also aims at verifying claims for the sake of children’s safety by testing the flame resistance of baby clothes.
“(My project) will probably tell parents and other consumers whether or not infant sleepwear is actually flame retardant and which types of infant sleepwear they should look at if they’re going out to buy some,” Kutcher said.
Amongst the real-world applications, there are many other benefits that go along with participating in the science fair.
“Well, one thing is you get to put it on your resume which is always a good thing when you’re applying to college,” Stone said. “Beyond that, when you have to do a science fair project, you’re incorporating not only your science skills, but also your creativity.”
By Shawn Gunarich
News & Features Editor
Ms. Heather Fogell, science teacher and accomplished scientist, has been working for many years on decoding the DNA (genome) of the squid in order to discover the medical characteristics of a certain muscle called “twitchen”, because it acts almost like a cancer cell.
Every summer, Ms. Fogell travels to Maine in order to catch fresh samples of squid to test. These tests include utilizing radioactive phosphorus to see how genes are made.
Such experiments need much training, which Ms. Fogell had acquired through a Masters degree in genetics, and two years of independent studies at Millersville University.
Even though her research into medical purpose of twitchen turned out for the moment inconclusive, she is still hopeful for the future of her research.
“Even though our data was inconclusive, I was able to strengthen my techniques for the future,” Ms. Fogell said. “Data is data and now we know where not to look.”
These days Ms. Fogell stays busy working on a scientific paper based off of her research into the squid, and has spoken at scientific seminars on such topics. She has had breakthroughs in her research thanks to the octopus genome being mapped. She also looks forward to picking up on her research this summer to further explore the squid genome.
“This new breakthrough in the octopus paves the way for the squid genome, and makes my job a lot easier,” Fogell said.
By Zachary Rhine
Science Fairs are a well known event in recent times, and Red Lion finally decided to take part in the cultural phenomenon.
On Jan. 24 Red Lion had its very first in-house science fair. Judging took place the previous day, Jan. 23 after school. The roster of judges included teachers, administrators, parents, and community members. The open house took place from two to three in the afternoon and awards were handed out by four.
In the senior division, Alec Gayrama was the grand champion. Allen Silks and Aston Shoup were the reserved grand champions of the senior division. In the Junior division, Vanessa Ficks was the grand champion. There was a tie between Jacob Lorenzen and Andrew Bacon for reserved grand champion of the junior division.
Mrs. Valerie Stone and Mrs. Amy Kilgore of Red Lion’s science department were the ones in charge. Most of their help was received from the Science Fair Club that was new to Red Lion this year.
Alec Gayrama is the president of the student run club, and also had a hand in its creation. The club takes place on both A and B weeks, and they understand if a member can’t come to every meeting.
“We hope to expand the club in the future. Hopefully to include junior high students, and possibly even elementary students,” said Mrs. Stone. She emphasized how much she believes in the club, and wants to make the in-house science fair a yearly event.
Viktoria Fry, a student member of the club, also encourages anyone interested in joining the club next year by saying, “We honestly became a tight-knit group. The club helps you make new friends.”
The club may also be helpful to put on resumes and help honors students plan for their own science fair project, said Mrs. Stone.
Mrs. Kilgore and Mrs. Stone are very pleased with their pool of judges they assembled even though it was a challenge. They include science board members and even college professors.
Honors students must participate in a science fair, but all high school students are also encouraged to come up with their own projects. Considering how well received this first fair went Mrs. Stone and Mrs. Kilgore are hoping to get enough participation to make the fair a regular event for many generations to come.
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