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Upper School Science Students Win Big at International Science Fair

Upper School Science Students Win Big at International Science Fair

Last week, Upper School science students traveled to Phoenix, Arizona to what some call "the Olympics of high school science fairs." The Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) is open to students in grades 9–12 who have competed in an ISEF-affiliated science fair and won the right to attend the Intel ISEF. The fair distributes more than 600 individual and team awards in 22 categories.

Six projects from OES students (Andrew N. '19, Aneesh G. '19, Emma W. '20, Eric L. '21, Ryan W. '20, and Sophie C. '20), made it to ISEF this year, and in the end, three OES students took home a variety of very distinguished awards.

Emma won a full-tuition scholarship to Drexel University for her project: The Role of Fluorescent Pigments in Protecting Zooxanthellae.

"After learning about and experiencing the effects climate change are having on our oceans, such as ocean acidification and coral bleaching, I was left with a desire to help contribute to solutions in any way possible," Emma said. "It was this hope to help fix coral bleaching that led to the idea of my project."

Andrew placed third in the Cellular and Molecular Biology category for his project: Direct Evolution of Antibody Fragments Targeting CD32a for Application in Immunotherapy to Eradicate HIV Latency.

"My project aims to find a cure for HIV," Andrew said. "I was motivated to do so since I was born and raised in a very conservative country. When I came here and had the opportunities to dive in deep scientific literature, I sparked an idea of harnessing our immune system using genetic engineering to cure HIV."

Ryan's project, Development of a Fully Reusable and Autonomously Landing Suborbital Launch Vehicle, took home a variety of awards including: the first place award from the United States Air Force, the second place award from NASA, the China Association for Science and Technology award, honorable mention for the International Council on Systems Engineering award, and first place worldwide in the Engineering Mechanics category.

"My lifelong dream is to go and live on Mars one day," Ryan said. Just seeing the next frontier of space exploration and all the possibilities—that's really what sparks my interest in this. I wanted to design a rocket that was solid-fueled and was smaller, but could also autonomously land to be re-used. It's a massive engineering challenge."

Traveling to Arizona to compete in ISEF is, for many, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It's a high-level competition, but it's also a chance for students to meet and share their interests with other students from all over the world.

"My favorite part was talking to and meeting new people," Emma said. "There were 1,800 kids from around 80 different countries there, which allowed me to talk to people I'd never had the opportunity to talk to. Everyone was really nice, interested in getting to know each other, and had a shared interest in the sciences, so it created a really positive environment to be a part of."

"While science competitions like ISEF can be fun with all the awards and glory, I personally enjoy the scientific progress and the communication of science," Andrew said.

Each student expressed deep gratitude for the support they received throughout their journey to ISEF.

"I'm extremely grateful for all the time the science teachers put into science research, and recognize that I would not have been able to make it this far if it were not for them," Emma said.

Photos courtesy of Andrew N., Emma W., and Ryan W., and Bevin Daglen.

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