Three of a kind: Sequim High juniors score well at science, humanities symposium

On March 13-14, Ashley Baltrusitis, Maeve Harris and Katherine Landoni presented their original research at Seattle Pacific University.

On March 13-14, Ashley Baltrusitis, Maeve Harris and Katherine Landoni presented their original research at Seattle Pacific University.

They were participating in the oral competitions of the Washington Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (WJSHS). All three presenters are in the 11th grade at Sequim High School. WJSHS was sponsored by the National JSHS organization as a regional competition to select the top five students to represent Washington. Their goal was to be invited to participate at the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force sponsored 52nd National JSHS to be held in Arlington, Va., on April 23-27.

Baltrusitis presented her research on Mycoremediation of Hydrocarbon Pollutants by Ericoid Mycorrhizae. The purpose of her experimentally based research was to determine if a native shrub in the plant family Ericaceae (Kinnikinnick) can remediate oil-contaminated soil. She was awarded a large medallion ribbon for being selected as one of the 16 finalists presenters based on her written abstract and research paper.

Harris presented her research on the Generation of Power Using Piezoelectric Leaves. The purpose of her research was to design a potential renewable energy source from an artificial leaf system. The artificial leaf system could then be used in an energy tree that would mimic the movement tree leaves.

Harris was awarded one of five finalist’s plaques and an opportunity to represent Washington in the 52nd National JSHS at a poster presentation.

Landoni presented her research on Magnitude 9 Earthquakes as a Basis for Soil Liquefaction Analysis. The purpose of her research was to improve the simplified liquefaction analysis procedure that is used to determine the extent of potentially liquefiable soil sites.

Landoni was awarded second place, a plaque, a $1,500 scholarship to any college of her choice and a $1,500 scholarship to Seattle Pacific University. Landoni also was invited to represent Washington by competing for additional awards with an oral presentation at the 52nd National JSHS.

These students spent hundreds of hours developing their projects in 2012-2014. Their research included a written abstract, a research paper of up to 20 pages in length, a slide show and a 12-minute oral presentation. They also were required to defend their research, answering questions from three judges and an audience of nearly 200 people.

Supporters include Sequim Middle School teacher and sponsor of the Sequim Science Fair Club, Debra Beckett, mentors Ron Tognazzini, Mary Omberg, Eric Crecelius, and parents, most of whom attended the WJSHS event.

Harris and Landoni will receive recognition and certificates during their all-expenses-paid trip. Landoni will be competing for first place with an award of $12,000, second place for $8,000 or third place for $4,000 scholarships.