DRAPER — Almost 200 students from Utah Catholic Schools grades six through high school presented their science projects to judges during the 24th annual Diocese of Salt Lake City Science Fair, held Feb. 8 at Juan Diego Catholic High School.
The fair, sponsored by the Utah Knights of Columbus, had fewer experiments this year because the other private schools that previously had participated chose to have their own fair this year, said Dr. Christine Celestino, who coordinated the event. She also is the director of the Academy of Science and a science teacher at JDCHS.
“Most of these science fair projects the students have been working on for months,” Celestino said. “Some of them, some of the really good ones, students started working on in June of last year.”
Areas of research varied widely, from “Are My Chores Making Me Go Deaf?” to “To Be or Bot to Be: Teaching an A.I. to Write.”
Vivian Schuman, one of the 21 high school students to enter the fair, competed with an experiment she had developed during an Academy of Sciences internship at the University of Utah this past year. Her experiment focused on trying to reactivate, using an oxidant, a tumor suppressor called p53, which occurs naturally in the body. This experiment “was quite a leap” from the one she did in eighth grade, when “I froze candles,” she said.
For Mia Giovanniello, an uncle’s intent to hatch brine shrimp for his aquarium led to an experiment that not only determined proper salinity but also raised considerations of climate change. The J.E. Cosgriff Memorial School seventh-grader determined that climate change could affect the salinity of the Great Salt Lake, which would prevent brine shrimp from breeding, destroying a multi-million-dollar industry and impacting nature, because brine shrimp are food for many other species.
“Really what this project taught me is how climate change is going to have a snowball effect, and how it’s going to affect the environment,” Giovanniello said.
Each of the students was reviewed by several judges. Abbe Waung, a senior at the University of Utah who is majoring in kinesiology, said that she asked all the students she judged if they had a personal connection with their project, “and I think all of them did. [They said] ‘Oh, I chose to do this because this affects my daily life, and so I wanted to know more about it,’ which was really cool to see them so invested in it.”
From the diocesan science fair, 25 6th-graders and 50 total from grades 7 to 12 will advance to the regional University of Utah Science & Engineering Fair, scheduled for March 10-12.