On Friday, March 23, science and nature fused together when the South Coast Botanical Gardens hosted the PVPUSD Regional Science and Engineering Fair. The participating student scientists from Peninsula and Palos Verdes High Schools prepared for this moment since the beginning of the school year. They showed off their research projects to the public and judges, and also competed for awards and a chance to compete on the international level. These projects were completed for science research, a class where students pose a theoretical question to experiment on for an answer, then spend the entire school year working independently.
“Science research is what science really is,” sophomore Samantha Wathugala said. “It is filled with trial and error, and teaches about science in a way that is a lot more useful if you want to be a scientist.”
Two out of 100 students from the PV Science Fair advance to the International Science and Engineering Fair held in Pittsburg, PA in May. After three hours of examination and questions from judges, Peninsula seniors Shu Hee Kim and Manu Vaish were announced finalists.
Peter Starodub, science research teacher, is anticipating promising results for these two scientists.
“I think [Vaish and Kim] have a good chance to place because their projects are very high quality,” Starodub said.
Vaish and Kim are both very experienced, having taken science research all four years of high school. Over the years, Kim has expanded her research on cancer.
“Last year in eleventh grade, I started a project which uses a patient’s own cancer cells to predict future growth of their cancer.” Kim said. “This year, I expanded upon this research and created a versatile computer model to find the optimal radiotherapy treatment methods for cancer patients, no matter what kind of cancer they have or what stage of cancer they have.”
Despite their hard work, both Kim and Vaish were shocked when they were proclaimed finalists.
“I was really surprised because I wasn’t expecting to go to Intel. The hard work definitely paid off; I guess it’s just that saying if you try your best good things will happen,” Vaish said.
InPittsburg, Vaish and Kim will compete against 1,500 of the top young scientists from over 65 different countries. They have the potential to place in the top three of their category, and receive awards.
Regardless of the results of the international competition in May, Starodub wants his students to take everything they have learned and use it in their future endeavors.
“I want them to feel that they have really accomplished something. I want them to take what they’ve learned and apply it to college,” Starodub said.
For some of his students, such as Kim, this has already been fulfilled.
“Science research has given me a structured idea of what I want to do with my life from now on, in college and beyond,” Kim said, who aspires to be a M.D. Ambassador for the World Health Organization. “I wouldn’t be the person I am today with the aspirations I hope to achieve if I hadn’t taken science research.”