Gymnast stretches to win top science fair award

Friday, Mar. 04, 2011
Gymnast stretches to win top science fair award Photo 1 of 3
By Marie Mischel
Intermountain Catholic

KEARNS – An elegant experiment with a simple test and sophisticated analysis led Miranda Rougelot to be named the Young Scientist of the Year at the Diocesan Science Fair on Feb. 26.

Rougelot, a 7th-grader at J.E. Cosgriff Memorial School in Salt Lake City, also took first place in the Biological Science category, the Overall Seventh Grade Award and the Overall Biological Science Award as well as the Best Physiological Experiment Award, a new category this year.

"Miranda presented a project that I wish half of my undergraduate students would do," said Daniel Malleske, M.D., an instructor at the University of Utah Division of Neonatology, who represented the American Physiological Society in handing out the award.

Rougelot’s project studied the effects of a common type of stretching on a gymnast’s ability to jump.

"I wanted to do a project that had to do with gymnastics because that’s my favorite sport and I thought it would make it a little bit more fun," said Rougelot, a level 8 gymnast who trains at the Gymnastics Training Center under Missy Marlow.

It was Marlow who gave Rougelot the idea for the experiment. Rougelot then asked her science teacher, Jim Larson, how to test her hypothesis.

The experiment examined, with a simple test, the height a gymnast could jump after proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitations stretching, then used motion analysis to examine the effect on a split jump on a balance beam. The experiment showed that the stretching reduced a gymnast’s performance; Rougelot said at her gym they now do the stretches after a workout rather than before.

"It was well-researched and the hypothesis was sound," Larson said, adding that the experiment was unique. "There was not a tremendous amount of literature in the medical field about it and it was very well thought out."

Rougelot’s project was very well executed, Malleske agreed, and added that Rougelot’s oral presentation helped convince him that she deserved the award. "She answered every question I asked her. I even got a little ruthless, and she came back perfectly," he said.

This was the first year Rougelot entered the diocesan science fair. "I just wanted to try it out because it’s a new experience," she said.

Despite the three months of work she put into her experiment, Rougelot wasn’t able to hear her name called at the awards ceremony; she left the science fair early to go to a gymnastics meet.

This is the fourth year in a row that a Cosgriff student has taken home the top prize at the Diocesan Science Fair and the fifth consecutive year a Cosgriff student won the Overall Eighth Grade Award. As part of the award from the American Physiological Society, Larson received a book, "Women Life Scientists: Past, Present and Future – Connecting Role Models to the Classroom Curriculum," which he said he was thrilled to receive. "We’ve had a number of excellent students like Miranda, and I think what I’m most proud of is the progress we’ve made and their interest in science," he said.

The 15th Annual Diocesan Science Fair, hosted by the Utah State Council Knights of Columbus, was held at Saint Francis Xavier Regional School in Kearns. Last year, the school also hosted the event, and all the experiments were set up in the gymnasium. This year, with a new wing, the school was able to divide the experiments by category into separate rooms.

"This has been nice to expose the diocesan community to our new addition here at St. Francis," said Principal Patrick Reeder.

"I think overall it’s a more quiet atmosphere and the students get to spend time with their fellow students with similar interests," said Vicky Simpson, who teaches math and science at St. Francis and also coordinates the science fair.

Last year the fair had 190 experiments; this year there were 216 projects in eight categories. Also this year, students from Saint Marguerite School in Tooele participated for the first time.

The six students from St. Marguerite had a variety of experiments, from the effect of soda on tooth decay to the effect of water temperature on Alka-Seltzer’s ability to dissolve.

"It’s been a learning curve; I’ve been walking around, thinking what we can do better next year," said Shayes White, science teacher at Saint Marguerite. "I’m seeing things we thought we couldn’t do that we can do."

St. Marguerite 7th-grader Drake Nielsen also said he learned a lot from seeing the other projects. His physics project, on hydropower, was fun, he said, but if he were to enter the science fair next year, "I’d probably do more tests on my project."

Dakota Madill, also in 7th grade at St. Marguerite, agreed that he would like to enter an experiment next year even though "the judges are tough," he said. The hardest question he was asked was what was contained in Alka-Seltzer, he said.

Overall, the students’ experiments were impressive, the judges said.

"It seems they are much more knowledgeable than we are," said Monica Padilla, one of the judges. "A lot of the kids are into the environment, which is good."

"I was impressed with how much science projects have changed since I was in school," said Mike Humphries, another judge. "Their projects are much more thorough."

Seeing the science experiments, "you feel good about the future because you know that we are in very good hands," said Ray Lopez, Knights of Columbus state deputy.

A complete list of the winners of the 15th Annual Diocesan Science Fair follows.

Young Scientist of the Year Award: Miranda Rougelot, J.E. Cosgriff Memorial School

Best Use of Mathematics Award: Caroline Holyoak, J.E. Cosgriff Memorial School

Best Use of Working Model Award: Madeleine Sellers, Saint Vincent de Paul School

Best Use of Oral Presentation Award: Connor Morgan, J.E. Cosgriff Memorial School

Most Unique Visual Display Award: Molly Keifer, Saint Francis Xavier Regional School

Overall Sixth Grade Award: Megan King, Saint John the Baptist Middle School

Overall Seventh Grade Award: Miranda Rougelot, J.E. Cosgriff Memorial School

Overall Eighth Grade Award: Paul Oliver, J.E. Cosgriff Memorial School

Overall Physical Science Award: Ian Gorrell-Brown, J.E. Cosgriff Memorial School

Overall Medical/Behavioral Science Award: Lindsay Ryan, J.E. Cosgriff Memorial School

Overall Biological Science Award: Miranda Rougelot, J.E. Cosgriff Memorial School

Overall Earth Science Award: Maria Stokes, Madeleine Choir School

Overall Engineering Science Award: Rachel Shubella, J.E. Cosgriff Memorial School

Overall Environmental Science Award: Madison Ravarino, Our Lady of Lourdes School

Overall Space and Aeronautics Award: Tom Marron, J.E. Cosgriff Memorial School

Overall Astronomy Award: Cristina Winters, Saint Vincent de Paul School

Overall Physiology Award: Miranda Rougelot, J.E. Cosgriff Memorial School

Sixth Grade Honorable Mention Award: Megan Ratz, Saint Olaf School

Seventh Grade Honorable Mention Award: Rachel Shubella, J.E. Cosgriff Memorial School

Eighth Grade Honorable Mention Award: Ian Gorrell-Brown and Lindsay Ryan, both of J.E. Cosgriff Memorial School

School Appreciation: Saint Francis Xavier Regional School

Host Science Teacher Award: Vicky Simpson, Saint Francis Xavier Regional School

Physical Science

6th grade: 1st Place, Matthew Benvegnu, Saint Vincent de Paul School; 2nd Place, William Nana Fabu, Saint Francis Xavier Regional School; 3rd Place, Gentry Stevenson, Saint John the Baptist Middle School

7th grade: 1st place, Melissa McFarlane, Saint John the Baptist Middle School; 2nd place, Jessica Espinoza, Saint John the Baptist Middle School; 3rd place, Drake Nielsen, Saint Marguerite School

8th grade: 1st place, Ian Gorrell-Brown, J.E. Cosgriff Memorial School; 2nd place, Sara Shum, J.E. Cosgriff Memorial School; 3rd place, Sharon Pham, Madeleine Choir School

Medical/Behavioral Science

6th grade: 1st place, Sarah Brandenburg, Saint Joseph Elementary School; 2nd place, Ruby Rodriguez, Saint Francis Xavier Regional School; 3rd place, Rosanna Tafaoialli, Saint Francis Xavier Regional School

7th grade: 1st place, Nikolah Kershisnik, Madeleine Choir School; 2nd place, Judi Bruggeman, Saint John the Baptist Middle School; 3rd place, Kepler Sticka-Jones, Blessed Sacrament School

8th grade: 1st place, Lindsay Ryan,  J.E. Cosgriff Memorial School ; 2nd place, Gillian Young, J.E. Cosgriff Memorial School, 3rd place, Aubrey Suchar, Saint Olaf School

Engineering

6th grade: 1st place, Aleksander Wozniak, Saint Francis Xavier Regional School; 2nd place, Alejandro Edwards, Saint Joseph Elementary School; 3rd place, Shawn Bell, Saint Marguerite School

7th grade: 1st place, Rachel Shubella, J.E. Cosgriff Memorial School; 2nd place, Madeleine Sellers, Saint Vincent de Paul School; 3rd place, Anastasia Gonzalez, Saint Vincent de Paul School

8th grade: 1st place, Amanda Sands, Blessed Sacrament School; 2nd place, Mikaela Schmiett, J.E. Cosgriff Memorial School; 3rd place, Dillon Clark, J.E. Cosgriff Memorial School

Environmental Science

6th grade: 1st place, Hailey Smith, Saint Francis Xavier Regional School; 2nd place, Britny Sorenson, Saint John the Baptist Middle School; 3rd place, Jack Boomer, Saint Joseph Elementary School

7th grade: 1st place, Quincy Houston, Our Lady of Lourdes School; 2nd place, Daniel Pfender, Madeleine Choir School; 3rd place, Bianca Ruiz, Our Lady of Lourdes School

8th grade: 1st place, Madison Ravarino, Our Lady of Lourdes School; 2nd place, Sierra Meyer, Saint Francis Xavier Regional School; 3rd place, Annie Payne, Madeleine Choir School

Biological Science

6th grade: 1st place, Megan King, Saint John the Baptist Middle School; 2nd place, Kendall Puglisi, Saint John the Baptist Middle School; 3rd place, Maureen Mullen Saint John the Baptist Middle School

7th grade: 1st place, Miranda Rougelot, J.E. Cosgriff Memorial School; 2nd place, Harry Pendergrast, Madeleine Choir School; 3rd place, Manny Condas, Saint Francis Xavier Regional School

8th grade: 1st place, Paul Oliver, J.E. Cosgriff Memorial School; 2nd place, Connor Morgan, J.E. Cosgriff Memorial School; 3rd place,  Gabby Paul, J.E. Cosgriff Memorial School

Earth Science

6th grade: 1st place, Megan Ratz, Saint Olaf School; 2nd place, Sheyenne Clay , Saint Olaf School; 3rd place, Bronc Marriott, Saint Olaf School

7th grade: 1st place, Maria Stokes, Madeleine Choir School; 2nd place, Ally Ioannides, Madeleine Choir School; 3rd place, Janell Schroeder, Saint Joseph Elementary School

8th grade: 1st place, Eli Mcquillan, Saint Francis Xavier Regional School; 2nd place, Emily Thompson, J.E. Cosgriff Memorial School; 3rd place, Johnathon Rodriquez, Saint Olaf School

Space and Aeronautics

6th grade: 1st place, Angelo Venegas, Saint Joseph Elementary School; 2nd place, Jacob Sanderson, Saint Vincent de Paul School

7th grade: 1st place, Tom Marron, J.E. Cosgriff Memorial School; 2nd place, Francis Lozano, Saint Vincent de Paul School; 3rd place, Jon Haines, Saint John the Baptist Middle School

8th grade: 1st place, Olivia Bithell, Blessed Sacrament School

Astronomy

7th grade: 1st place, Colin Bonk, J.E. Cosgriff Memorial School

8th grade: 1st place, Cristina Winters, Saint Vincent de Paul School; 2nd place, Kelly Gonzales, Blessed Sacrament School; 3rd place, Josh Nielsen, Saint Francis Xavier Regional School

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