Singing, Dancing, Careful Note-Taking: Students Express Life Science Ideas at Expo

5/28/09

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exhibit drew a lot of attention, even in the crowded hall.

The research exhibits sought to stimulate the mind just as much as the art stimulated the eye. Moriah Shupp, a student at WF West High School in Chehalis, WA, showed some careful and rigorous research on the effect of Splenda on fruit flies, which came out of her own decision to cut sugar from her diet. The research reports, thorough and methodical, represent the budding of new scientists whose work will be part of the future of biotechnology and related fields.

The expo’s organizers recognize that not every student at the expo will become a scientist, but believe that they can also succeed by helping students understand science for their everyday lives, Chowning says.

One aspiring journalist, Anita Dukart, from Juanita High School in Kirkland, WA, wrote a story on how people feel about the human papillomavirus vaccine, marketed by Merck as Gardasil, as a way to prevent girls from getting cervical cancer later in life. “It opened me up more to science,” Dukart says. Another student interested in art, Zehren—who sketched many designs of her sickle cell anemia model before building—said the project inspired her to think more about science and she now is considering becoming a science artist, perhaps creating illustrations for science textbooks.

All during the expo, the judges, from a variety of biological and medical institutions, went to each exhibit, talked to the creator and began to consult with each other. The afternoon added some new excitement with performances of biologically related rap, tap dance, and song. The organizers announced the winner in each category, including the people’s choice, voted on by attendees. (Zehren won third place in molecular modeling, and Shupp won honorable mention in lab research.) Each winner received a hundred dollar prize, and the school that wins the Cup of Excellence receives a large trophy to put in their awards cabinet—alongside trophies from the school sports teams.

“We’re trying to excite a broad range of students in life sciences,” Chowning says. To judge from the applause, they succeeded.

By the way, Splenda turns out to be fine for fruit flies in moderate doses, Shupp says. And she has the research to back it up.

First Place Awards:

Art: Erin Stickley, Eastside Catholic HS
Career and Industry: Amanda Bryant, Evergreen HS
Drama and Dance: Jesse Bengtsson, Nicholas Conway, Jay Howard, Ballard HS
Lab Research: Matten Bremgartner, W.F. West HS
Molecular Modeling: Danee Hidano, International School Bellevue
Multimedia: Nicole Frederick, Ballard HS
Music: Laurisa Coffee, Shorecrest HS
Teaching: Kristin Dorr, Eastlake HS
Website: Thao Ho, West Seattle HS
Creative Writing: Evan Fowler, Eastside Catholic HS
Journalism Writing: Charlotte Graham, Mercer Island HS
People’s Choice: Rosie Spracklin, Ballard HS
Cup of Excellence School: West Seattle HS

Eric Hal Schwartz was an intern in Xconomy's Seattle office. Follow @

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