Student Success at Local & State Science Fair

The Delphi Program™ revolves around a basic concept: get students to use their education to solve life’s problems and challenge them to achieve certain goals every day they are in school. 

    Recently, three Upper School students challenged themselves to apply their science, technology and mathematics theories from the classroom to real life in order to compete in the regional Central Western Oregon Science Exposition (CWOSE) science fair, and then again when they qualified for the state-level Northwest Science Exposition (NWSE) in Portland.

   Inspired by the work SpaceX is doing in landing full-size rockets, sophomore Quinn Bennett took on the project of how to safely land a model rocket after a launch. Quinn said, “As I moved through the project, every step was a new challenge. I constantly found myself knowing exactly what I wanted to do and not having a clue how to do it.”

   Quinn designed and built a launch system using coding, technology and good old trial and error. “I spent the first few days struggling with the seemingly simple task of getting a LED to blink.” After getting the LED working, Quinn wrote the computer code to run an Arduino motor with LED indicator lights in order to land a rocket with a modern joystick. She even designed and 3D printed plastic grid fins that were programmed to deploy after the rocket launch. 

   At the NWSE competition in Portland, Quinn won two awards from the United States Air Force and one from the Navy for her work. “Seeing what I’ve been able to do with electronics and programming, I feel confident in my ability to think like an engineer and solve problems,” Quinn said. “The months I’ve spent working on this project have been some of the best months of my life. I couldn’t ask for a better experience with any science project.”

   For their science project, juniors Siena Schofield and Heidi Rodriguez-Mininger teamed up to explore the possibility of aquaponics in micro-gravity (such as in the harsh climate of Mars) by building an aquaponics system in the science lab. 

   Research in aquaponics could lead to a potential food source for life on Mars and other planets, as well as a potential solution for growing food in developing countries where climates are naturally harsh, farming is nearly impossible and fresh food is hard to transport. 

   Siena and Heidi’s project won an award from NASA at the regional CWOSE science fair. At the NWSE state-level competition, they qualified to apply at the national level for the Stockholm Junior Water Prize—a national and international competition for students who conduct water-related projects that are proven significant for their environmental, scientific, social or technological applications. 

   The results from Siena and Heidi’s entry into the Stockholm Junior Water competition will be announced sometime in May. Winners will be invited to the national competition in North Carolina, which could qualify them for the international competition in Stockholm, Sweden.