Concord, Calif., – The pursuit of science and engineering continues during a global pandemic, while young people continue to be engaged in innovation. In 2021, the Contra Costa County Science and Engineering Fair (CCCSEF) was reconfigured as a virtual event, as 16 sophomore students from De La Salle submitted projects to the competition.
This year, De La Salle AP Biology students were able to buckle down and complete research projects with about 50 percent working exclusively at home and 50 percent utilizing STREAM Lab 512 on Flex Days and weekends, following COVID-19 guidelines. Projects ranged from computer modeling of nerve poisons and pharmaceutical interactions to the metrics and origin determination of micrometeorites that landed on a student's roof.
Over 100 students in our county submitted a digital tri-fold, a two-minute video, and PDFs of their abstract and research paper for the competition while participating in Zoom interviews with local scientists and engineers took place on March 12th. De La Salle students (all sophomores) were judged in the same division as elite juniors and seniors from other area schools, and all 16 Spartans who submitted projects placed in the top three for their category.
The De La Salle AP Biology group amassed four first-place distinctions, five second places, three third places, and four special awards from government agencies and corporations. Five De La Salle students (four projects) qualified to participate in the California State Science Fair (also a virtual event) on April 12 and 13, 2021. This is the 21st consecutive year that De La Salle has sent county-appointed sophomores to the most prestigious Science Competition in California.
De La Salle students Daniel Berkes, James Christensen, Issac De Rosas, Rolando Sanchez, and David Wright, received first place honors, and the projects submitted by these five Spartans are four of the 18 from Contra Costa County that qualified for the 2021 California Science and Engineering Fair.
Click on the project title links to see each project’s digital tri-fold, video, and research paper.
The following De La Salle Students had first place submissions:
- Daniel Berkes (Behavioral Science): How the Pandemic Has Affected Teen Nutrition. Received the U.S. Agency for International Development certificate.
- James Christensen (Physical Science): Where Have You Been?: Analyzing Micrometeorites from the Solar System. Received the NASA Earth System Science Award.
- Isaac De Rosas and Rolando Sanchez (Environmental Science): The Effects of Microplastics on Forward Rates of Spread (FROS) and Emission Toxicity of Forest Fires.
- David Wright (Biology): Radiotrophic Fungi: Benefiting from Exposure to Ionizing Radiation. Earned a certificate from the U.S. Department of the Air Force.
The following De La Salle students had second-place submissions:
- Michael Giorgi (Biology), Do You Hear What I Hear? Deleterious Effects of AirPods on Hearing Acuity and Concentration.
- David Green (Biology), Cat Conditioning – Teaching Cats a Communication Mechanism.
- Peter Heiskell (Behavioral Science), The Psychology of Music During Historical Pandemics. Received a special award from the American Psychological Association.
- Nick Johnson (Biological Science), Effect of Nicotine with the CRISPR cas9 Gene Editing System.
- Drew Miller (Biology), Comparison of Scoby in Kombucha to a Daily Probiotic.
The following De La Salle students had third place submissions:
- Faris Khandaqji and Krishna Marichetty (Math/Computer Science), Creating a Safer World: Designing Nanomedicine to Remedy the Effect of Chemical Weapons.
- William McNamara and Alexander Favorito (Behavioral Science), The Influence of Major Political Events on Teen Usage of Social Media.
- Anton Oppen (Biology), Testing the Longevity of Mitochondria.
- Aiden Yakas (Physical Science), Flash Freezing Our Food.
This De La Salle Research Program began in the Fall of 2000 to promote STEM interest, STEM excellence, and preparation for college and career. That tradition continues in the year 2021.