Students win awards at science championship

April 14, 2009 — by Abhishek Venkataramana

Junior Malika Kumar eagerly walked into the entrance of Great America on Mar. 30. But unlike most of the crowd, she wasn’t there for the roller coasters or the water slides. Instead she was there to attend the 2009 Synopsis Science and Technology Championship Award Ceremony. In addition to Kumar, six other science fair participants from Saratoga High were chosen to attend the ceremony.

Out of the 300 Bay-Area students who participated in the Synopsis Science and Technology Championship held on March 18, 220 participants received awards and were invited to attend the award ceremony located at Great America. Awards were given out by individual companies such as NASA and also by the official judges. Freshman Shriya Nagpal, sophomores Vijay Menon, Karthik Sreedhara, Abhishek Venkataramana and Caroline White and juniors Malika Kumar and Haley Zarrin were all invited to the ceremony.

Nagpal was awarded Honorable Mention for her technical paper dealing with the chemistry involved in cosmetics. Menon, Sreedhara and Venkataramana were awarded first place in the category of Chemistry and first alternates for the State Science Fair for their project titled “A Comparison of Cellulosic and Non Cellulosic Ethanol Sources.” White was awarded first place in the category of Engineering and the Intel Promising Young Scientist Award for her project titled “Automatic Dice- rolling Machine for Finding Defective Dice.” Zarrin and Kumar also received first place in the Engineering Category for their project titled “Creating a SensorGVS: A Sonar/Accelerometer Guided Vehicle Stabilization System.” They were also named the fair’s “Grand Prize Alternate,” won an all-expense paid trip to the University of Southern California (USC) for the California State Science Fair, were listed as the first alternate for the Intel International Science Fair and received $100 from the Safety Systems Society for creating a project that could improve passenger safety.

“We were really shocked when we heard we’d won the Grand Prize alternate,” said Kumar. “Neither of us expected that at all because it’s really difficult to win the top award like that, and we were pretty thrilled about making it this far. That was probably our favorite award.”

Kumar said that the awards ceremony was not the only rewarding part of the experience for her.

“While doing our project we figured out a lot about writing and using computer simulations and about engineering and programming that can be used in models,” said Kumar. “It was definitely a good experience and it’s always fun and challenging to completely build something from scratch and present in a fair.”

The California State Science Fair will be held at USC on May 18.

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