Students Advance at County Science Fair

Sophomore Anthony Zhou poses with his project.

By Staff Writer Joelle Chuang

MSJ students recently participated in the Alameda County Science and Engineering Fair (ACSEF) held from March 10 to 12 at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton, winning many awards in multiple categories. Four students also advanced to the state and international levels.

The annual ACSEF showcases junior high and high school students’ projects. The mission of ACSEF is to stimulate students’ passion in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. Last year, MSJ also performed well, with two state qualifiers, 12 special award winners, and 25 top four category award winners.

 This year, Sophomore Anthony Zhou and Senior Jessika Baral were two of the top five Grand Award winners who will attend an all-expenses-paid trip to the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) from May 14 to 19 in Los Angeles, CA. Sponsored by Intel and a program under the Society for Science & the Public, ISEF is the largest international high school science competition in the world. Competitors will have their projects reviewed and judged by doctoral level scientists, competing for $4 million in awards.

Baral covered artificial intelligence and its integration into cancer therapy in her project titled “Machine Learning Tool for Detection of Small Cell Lung Cancer Stage Using Novel Nuclear Factor I/B Expression: Significantly Increase Patient Survival in Less than One Minute.” Zhou’s project, which he received a scholarship from Chevron for, was titled “Development of a Non-Tracking Two Stage Concentrator Using the Simultaneous Multi-Surface Design Method,” where he created a solar concentrator that could reach similar efficiencies as a tracking parabolic concentrator, but at a low machinery cost.

Additionally, Zhou, Baral, Sophomore Jonathan Ko, and Sophomore Saurabh Narain were four of 12 finalists who received the California State Science Fair (CSSF) Qualifier Award. The four will attend CSSF from April 24 to 25 at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, CA, where approximately 1,000 participants from grades six to 12 will compete for prizes totaling $60,000.

Baral, Ko, Narain, and Zhou each won first place for their project categories as well, and seven other MSJ teams won second or third place in their categories.

Participants in the ACSEF gained a variety of skills through their experiences. In addition to the knowledge he gained through his project, Zhou also learned the importance of effective communication during the judging process. He encouraged other MSJ students to participate as well. “Everyone has the capability to achieve great things, but the thought that they aren’t good enough prevents people from even trying,” Zhou said, “You’ll be surprised at what you can achieve.”

Photo Courtesy Annet Hammond Photography

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