Four St. Joseph’s Academy students participated in the 2018 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), held May 13-19 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Nearly 1,800 young scientists from 81 countries, regions and territories participated in this year’s event, the world’s largest pre-college science competition.
Participants represented the best of more than 7 million high school students who participated in science fairs around the world during the past year and won top honors at local, regional and national competitions.
Recent graduate Anna Koonce finished third with her project, Ecological Restoration Zones Within the Monkey River Area (Belize) Using Community Grown Nurseries to Produce Plants for Riparian Strips. “Science Fair has been a defining extracurricular of my high school experience,” she said. “I have loved not only learning about the most current global problems but also being enabled to act to make a difference in solving those issues. Out of all the science fairs I have attended, Intel ISEF has been by far my favorite. It is both empowering and humbling to see high school students from around to world unite in the name of science and share their passion for positive change. I am so very grateful to Linda Messina and St. Joseph’s Academy for giving me the opportunity to participate.”
Recent graduate Mary Catherine Lorio finished fourth with her project entitled A Novel Method for Simulating Hermite-Gaussian Modes of Light. “This was my second year competing in Intel ISEF,” she said. “I really enjoyed meeting people from different countries and talking to them about their homes. I especially enjoyed sharing my research project with the judges. I truly poured my heart and energy into my presentation, so when I found out that I placed in the competition, I was incredibly thrilled! I felt like all of my hard work had finally paid off.”
Junior Corrine Hutchinson presented her project, Contributing Factors of Louisiana Teenage Driver Injury Levels in Motor Vehicle Crashes. She said her experience at ISEF was life changing. “By looking at projects from different countries and meeting the minds behind them, I learned how much people my age can accomplish and how their research can impact the world,” she said. “I enjoyed seeing what problems people saw in the world and in what ways they are trying to solve them. When I was able to meet and get to know the finalists at the fair, they inspired me to continue finding problems and coming up with solutions to make this world a better place. This trip has truly motivated me to continue researching, allowed me to connect with people who share my passion in science and build relationships with people from all over the world. I also got to see how my research could help inspire others; talking to the judges and other finalists gave me more confidence and encouraged me to continue tackling issues I see in my life to benefit everyone.”
Junior Rachael Coates presented her research, Quantification of the Effects of Fluid Shear Stress in Circulating Tumor Cells. “I presented to 15 judges, and every time I presented, I gained insight on how I would further my research,” she said. “The best thing about ISEF is that everyone there was like me: They love to learn, and they are on the forefront of research. Because of this, I could easily relate with so many of the finalists and made many friends that I hope I can connect with again.”
Science Fair Coordinator Linda Messina said ISEF was a wonderful experience. “The International Fair this year continued the tradition of excellent high school research,” she said. “I have been to 23 international science fairs, and I still get as excited as I did for the first fair. To see students from around the world sharing their knowledge and interacting with one another is simply amazing. Our four students did a magnificent job of presenting their respective projects to experts in their fields. I am so proud of their continued efforts in the STEM field. Mary Catherine has worked on her projects for three years, and Anna has worked on hers for four years. Corrine and Rachael plan to do research projects again next year. This shows such motivation and dedication.”
Co-moderator Jacqueline Savoia said her first ISEF exceeded all expectations. “It was incredible to see such a wide variety of projects from all around the globe,” she said. “These students are the future of science. I can’t describe how incredibly proud I am of our SJA girls for being able to participate. It was truly a memorable experience for all involved. I can’t wait to be a part of it in the years to come.”
Mindy Brodhead Averitt
Photos courtesy of Edy Koonce