Sequim students shine at state fair

From left, Sequim students: Nicholas Howe, Sean Weber, Alliyah Weber (in front), Willow Williams, Madeline Patterson, mentor Ron Tognazzini, Porter Funston, teacher Deb Beckett, Brenden Jack, S. Xavier Conway, Sarah Henry, Isabelle MacMurchie and Jade Webb show off awards they earned at the Washington State Science and Engineering Fair.  - Submitted photo
From left, Sequim students: Nicholas Howe, Sean Weber, Alliyah Weber (in front), Willow Williams, Madeline Patterson, mentor Ron Tognazzini, Porter Funston, teacher Deb Beckett, Brenden Jack, S. Xavier Conway, Sarah Henry, Isabelle MacMurchie and Jade Webb show off awards they earned at the Washington State Science and Engineering Fair.
— image credit: Submitted photo

On April 4-5, 22 students from four Sequim schools entered a total of 19 projects into the 57th Annual Washington State Science and Engineering Fair (WSSEF) held at Bremerton High School. This year the fair had 555 participants from grades 1-12 that entered 469 individual and team projects and gave away $1.8 million in cash awards and scholarships.

Judging was performed with the help of 250 professionals that volunteered over the two-day event.

Sequim students walked away with 10 first-place awards, cash awards and scholarships.

Sequim schools have been participating in the state science and engineering fair each year since 2005, when Sequim Middle School science teacher Debra Beckett started the Sequim Science Fair Club. The numbers of students have increased and the generally high quality of their projects has been recognized every year.

As more projects have been added, other teachers such as Carla Morton of Greywolf Elementary and mentors Mary Omberg, Dr. Eric Crecelius and Ron Tognazzini have helped with guiding students to excel with their projects. The purpose of these efforts is to promote interests in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) by giving Sequim students an opportunity to develop a project of their choice and a chance to compete with other Washington State students.

Sequim High School student Katherine Landoni walked away with the most awards, including a first-place award in her category of Earth and Planetary Sciences. Her project used nano-sized particles of magnetized iron, in a colloidal suspension of ferrofluid in the inter-granular spaces to strengthen liquefiable soil during a seismic event. Landoni was one of two Sequim High School students (along with Sarah Henry) out of three in WSSEF, who are being offered an opportunity to compete in the Stockholm Junior Water Prize competition. They will compete for the best project in water environment science.

Landoni will progress to a round of state wide competition by registering and submitting a research paper by April 15. The winners from each state will be awarded an all-expense paid trip to compete at the national competition level, June 13-14, in Herndon, Va. Landoni also was awarded certificates, a handbook and hand-lens from both the National and Puget Sound Association of Women Geoscientists as the best female student to whose project exemplifies high standards of innovativeness and scientific excellence in the geosciences.

The Washington Society of Professional Soil Scientists presented Landoni with a certificate and an award of $50 for a project that elucidates soil function. A software license for Wolfram-Alpha, a computational knowledge-based engine for learning history, math and science, also was presented to Landoni. A renewable scholarship in the amount of $2,000 per year was awarded to Landoni by the College of Engineering and Architecture at Washington State University. Evergreen State College offered Landoni a one-year full tuition scholarship in natural and physical sciences and Ohio Wesleyan University offered her a $20,000 renewable scholarship for four years.

Sixth-grade student, Isabelle MacMurchie also won first place for her project that was titled "Deductive Proof: The Lonely Runner Conjecture." In her proof, this conjecture states that if eight runners having distinct constant speeds start at a common point and run laps on a circular track with a circumference of one; then, there is a point in time at which each runner is a distance of at least 1/8 along the track away from every other runner. This conjecture has only been proven for up to seven runners since it was first proposed in 1967.

MacMurchie was presented with an opportunity to compete in the Broadcom MASTERS (Math, Applied Science, Technology and Engineering for Rising Stars) held in Washington, D.C., in October of this year. WSSEF awarded this opportunity to 28 middle school students, of which MacMurchie was one of five Sequim Middle School students.

Nominees enter this nationwide competition by completing an application explaining their science project and demonstrating their use of STEM principles in the development and presentation of their project. From the thousands of applicants that represent the top 10 percent of all middle school students nationwide, 300 semifinalists are selected, which are then reviewed again to select 30 finalists. If MacMurchie is selected as one of the 30 finalists this year, she will follow former Sequim finalists; Katherine Landoni in 2011 and Sean Weber in 2013.

In addition, the Bremerton Council of the Parent Teacher Student Association awarded MacMurchie one of six certificates and a cash amount of $20. MacMurchie also was presented with the only graphics design award for grades 1-6. She earned an award of $25 for a display that exhibited visual impact with pictures, color and text in its overall design.

Third-grade student Alliyah Weber won first place, a pass to visit the Pacific Science Center and Best of Category for her project titled: "Factors which may Influence Crystal Growth." She evaluated factors such as light, temperature and impurities to determine how they affected crystal growth. She found that light had no effect but that temperature affected the rate of crystal growth and size of the crystals grown.

Weber also concluded with an insight that impurities do not fit well within a crystal structure, and that if the crystal formed slowly enough the impurities could be rejected.

Sequim Science Fair Club, 2014 state fair results (by name, grade, project and awards):

Helen Haller

Alliyah Weber — 3 — Factors Which May Influence Crystal Growth — 1st Place, Best of Category, Pacific Science Center


Isaac Bratsman — 4 — The Effect of Fertilizers on Algae Growth — 2nd Place

Douglas Crabb, Truman Nester, Erik Christiansen — 5The Correlation Between Coronal Mass Ejections and the Sunspot Cycle — 3rd Place

Sequim Middle School

Isabelle MacMurchie — 6 — Deductive Proof: The Lonely Runner Conjecture — 1st Place, Bremerton Council PTSA, Broadcom MASTERS, Graphics Design

S. Xavier Conway7 — Steam Boat Power — 2nd Place

Porter Funston7 — Solar Panel Efficiency — 1st Place, Broadcom MASTERS

Kitiara Hayden7 — Blowing Bubbles — 3rd Place

Brenden Jack7What Caused Gertie to Gallop? — 1st Place, Broadcom MASTERS

Aaron Jackson7 — Angle of the Root — 3rd Place

Madeline Patterson7 — Energy Output of Northwest Woods — 1st Place, Broadcom MASTERS

Jade Webb — 7 —  Sea Kelp Oil Flocculent — 1st Place, Pacific Science Center

Sean Weber7An Investigation of Variables Which affect HAB Development on the Pacific Coast of North America — 1st Place, Broadcom MASTERS

Willow Williams7 — Viscosity of Magma Vs. the Formation of Volcanoes — 2nd Place

Jake Emery8 — Laser Refraction — 2nd Place

Amanda Murphy8Speed of Deicers — 2nd Place

Sequim High School

Nicholas Howe — Engineering: Materials & Bioengineering — Properties of Polyurethane Geocomposite as a Lunar Habitat Construction Material — 1st Place, American Institute of  Astronautics PNW

Sarah HenryEnvironmental SciencesPotential Toxic Effects of Coal on Aquatic Ecosystems in Puget Sound — 1st Place, NOAA, Water Environment  Federation U.S. Regional Stockholm  Junior Water Prize

Trent LaCour, Grant Shogren — Energy & TransportationIron Pyrite Nanoparticles in Photovoltaic Cells: The Effects of Varying Particle Size on Photon Absorption Rates — 3rd place

Katherine Landoni — Earth & Planetary ScienceMitigating Seismic Liquefaction using Magnetized Iron Nanoparticles in a Ferrofluid — 1st Place, Water Environment Federation U.S.  Regional Stockholm Junior Water Prize, Association for Women Geoscientists - National and Puget  Sound, Washington Society of Professional soil  Scientists, Wolfram Research, Inc. - Mathematica,  Ohio Wesleyan University, The Evergreen State College, Washington State University - College of  Engineering and Architecture

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