Students compete at Synopsis Science Fair

March 27, 2009 — by Abhi Venkataramana

The San Jose Convention Center was packed to the brim with colorful tri-fold posters and students displaying homemade robots on March 18 as over 800 students from schools from the Bay Area competed in the Synopsis Silicon Valley Science and Technology Championship. Five teams from Saratoga competed in the prestigious competition.

“The Synopsis Science fair is a great opportunity for people who are really interested in science and actually want to do scientific work instead of just reading about it in school,” said junior Dhruv Seshadri. “There are college professors and scientists who talk to you about your project and sometimes even offer you a summer job if they really like what you did. ”

Students prepared for the competition since early September. Some students worked with professors at universities and others chose to work alone. Seshadri, who did his project on the impact of heat on bacterial transformation, decided to work with a professor from UC Santa Cruz for his project.

“My project was relatively complicated to do on my own, so I decided to talk with a professor to get help,” said Seshadri. “He gave me a list of
books and resources and he let me use his lab to conduct my experiment.”

In addition to Seshadri, freshmen Hannibal Chang and Shriya Nagpal, sophomores Abhishek Venkataramana, Karthik Sreedhara, Vijay Menon and Caroline White and juniors Haley Zarrin and Malika Kumar participated in the competition.

After completing the experiment, the students had to put together a poster detailing their experiment, and they also had to write a paper about their experiment for judges and company recruiters.

“For me, the hardest part of my whole project was doing the poster,” said Seshadri. “It seems really easy to do, but it literally took me more than 10 days to make my poster.”

Scientists from universities and high profile companies such as NASA and the Air Force judged the posters. In addition, recruiters from biotech companies came to scout out good project ideas and recruit science fair students for jobs or internships. Projects were judged based on the student’s poster, experiment and presentation.

“The judges are great,” said Seshadri. “They know what they are talking about so they really give you good advice.”

Based on the judging, teams will be eligible for awards in category of their experiment. In addition they are also eligible for special awards given out by specific companies. The award ceremony will be held at Great America on March 29.

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