MST students compete in regional science fair

Photo by Amanda Tu
Left to right: Caitlin Powell (10), Jack Peterson (10), Sai Pitadella (10), Ryan Carrier (10) and Ishan Shah (10). Photo courtesy of Mr. Zwanzig

Manual held its regional science fair on Saturday, March 8 at the University of Louisville.

Six students, Garrett McGrady (10), Roshan Duggineni (10), Sanjana Rane (10), Yue Zhang (10), Allen Jiang (11), and Rishi Jonnala (11), were selected to attend ISEF (the International Science & Engineering Fair). Thirty-nine students will be advancing to state competition.

Projects were placed into one of 17 groups for judging, and students were evaluated by parents and teachers in a two-round selection process. In the first tier, a set of judges scored each student in a given category, choosing the top two in each category for the state fair. In the second tier, the top projects were divided into two “supercategories” to be judged again, and the top two in each “supercategory” were selected for ISEF.

Though other local students attend the Louisville Regional Science and Engineering Fair, Manual has sponsored another fair as its own region for the past several years due to its continued dominance.

According to Mr. Zwanzig (Science), this year’s science fair was more competitive than ever before.

“I think this is the strongest group of research projects we have ever had,” he said. “More students than ever have been bitten by the research bug and want to get to the ISEF level competitions. More students than ever are seeing what a big deal making it to ISEF is.”

Allen Jiang (11), one of the students who will be competing at ISEF in May, says that the road to science fair success was not an easy one.

“I made a spectrophotometer on a smartphone,” he said. “Spectrophotometers analyze substances using light, but typically cost thousands, and are big and fragile. My setup, which costs around 11 dollars, is a major improvement. It was a very long process, with lots of prototypes and confusing code. I worked on it over several months.”

The state competition, the Kentucky Science and Engineering Fair, will take place on March 29.