North County science students rock at state level

NORTH COUNTY — A majority of the top winners at this year’s California State Science Fair were North County students who had already taken first prizes at the San Diego level. The statewide event was held in Los Angeles on May 18 and May 19.
First-Place awards were earned by eighth-graders Weston Braun and Stewart Wirick from The Grauer School in Encinitas and Jaclyn Hirbawi and Taimur Rehan from The Rhoades School in Encinitas. Rehan’s entry was in the Biochemistry/Molecular Biology category titled “GMO Detection through Visual Selection:Year II.” Hirbawi’s entry was in the category of Zoology and was titled “Experimental Opuntia oricola Regrowth in Burned Cactus Wren Habitat.”
Weston Braun also brought home the $500 Merrill Lynch Investment Managers Award for Excellence in Electronics, for achievement in electronics and electromagnetic studies. Braun’s experiment involved changing the frequency of a Tesla coil to increase wireless transmission range.
Students Kristen Mizutani, Sajan Sanghvi and Rebecca Tsai of Rhoades School, all brought home second-place honors.
Third-place awards went to Ronit Abramson of Canyon Crest Academy, Madison Dutra and Joel Kosmatka from The Rhoades School and Stephen Lam of High Tech High. Abramson also won a $1,000 UC Riverside Center for Plant Cell Biology award for scientific achievement in the fields of cell and molecular biology, genomics, bioinformatics, or technology development that will impact our understanding of plant cell biology. Abramson was also named California State Science Fair Student of the Year for his project “Cell Wall Formation from Marine Diatom Protoplasts: Implications for Novel Transformation and Nanotechnology Techniques.”
Michael Vredenburgh of Carlsbad High School and Matt Friedman of The Rhoades School brought home fourth-place trophies.
Fifth-place (honorable mention) awards were earned by Stephen Ai, The Rhoades School; Xiaoyu (Carrie) Cao, Torrey Pines High; Varun Chaturvedi, Torrey Pines High; Jacob Cole, Torrey Pines High; Vaishnavi Rao, Carmel Valley Middle; Alexander Ryan, The Rhoades School; Madeleine Silverstein, The Rhoades School; Nicole Sinno, The Rhoades School; Ethan Hoo Soo, Santa Fe Christian and Tyler Taylor, High Tech High.
All CSSF participants in the Junior Division have also qualified into Round 2 of the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge for students in the fifth through eighth grades.

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