Congratulations to the 2018 LRSEF Winners Anna and Naomi!

Congratulations to the 2018 Lowcountry Regional Science and Engineering Fair Winners: Senior 2 Winner Anna Smirnova from Academic Magnet High School (teacher Katy Metzner-Roop) and Senior 1 Winner Naomi Higgins from The Georgetown School of Arts and Sciences (teacher Michelle Neubauer)!

Overall winners, Naomi Higgins and Anna Smirnova

With their research, Anna and Naomi each won their particular division of the Lowcountry Regional Science and Engineering Fair, held in April at the College of Charleston and presented at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), this May in Pittsburgh, PA.

The LHSM was proud to have both of these students represent the Lowcountry of South Carolina at the Intel ISEF. Anna’s research focused on how Phenyl-C61-butyric acid methyl ester (PCBM) affects the phase dynamics of the polymer in solution, to see if it might provide an additional nucleation site and increase aggregation and alter the final film morphology of the spin-coated solution. Naomi’s research tried to determine if music or sounds are motivational and improve concentration, or if they were distracting, while performing some type of math task.

Anna at her LRSEF PosterAnna is currently a senior at Academic Magnet High School, Charleston, SC. This summer She’ll be working in the physical chemistry lab with Dr. Boucher at the College of Charleston. Next year She’ll be studying chemistry at Duke University. In the future, she hopes to use the principles of physics and chemistry to make the world a better place, specifically in the energy and environment sector. After college, she hopes to get a Ph.D. in molecular engineering, physical chemistry, or a related field, and possibly work for the Department of Energy or maybe run her own lab at a university.

Naomi at the Intel ISEF 2018Naomi will be a Sophomore at The Georgetown School of Art and Sciences, Georgetown, SC. She is still not quite sure what the future holds for her, but she knows that she is interested in continuing her research around music and the effects it has on people.

Both girls attended the Intel ISEF in Pittsburgh and were truly amazed. Both students talked about the opportunities to meet new people and see the inspiring research going on from high school students. Anna said, “talking to people with similar interests from across the world was so fun, and it was inspiring to see so many kids doing such incredible work.” Naomi said, “The whole experience, for me, was life changing because it showed me that I may be in high school but I have the opportunities to change the world for the better with my work. I will never forget this experience.”

Naomi meeting students from all over the worldScience fair has in many schools fallen by the wayside, yet there are so many benefits to performing real-world research. I asked Anna and Naomi why they thought it was beneficial and here is what they said…Anna said, “I almost didn’t submit my project because I didn’t think my data was good enough. Just go for it, you never know what might happen! Even if you don’t win any prizes it is still a great opportunity to learn how to speak well, get advice on your project from actual scientists and to make connections. Also don’t be nervous about speaking in front of the judges, more than anything they are there to encourage you and push you to think more!” And Naomi, “I believe the science fair teaches students how to speak to adults and do it well, how to present themselves in a respectful way, and it allows students to explore different fields of science that they could truly be interested in. Science fair has only had a positive impact on me and I hope science fairs will continue for years to come.”

As the Intel ISEF says…the future is indeed bright for these science fair participants. And it is indeed bright for our own Anna Smirnova and Naomi Higgins!

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