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Diocesan science fair brings experiments to Fairfax

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Did you know that Coca-Cola cleans pennies better than white vinegar? Or that beeswax is an alternative to store-bought crayons?

These are just a couple things revealed at the annual diocesan science fair at St. Paul VI Catholic High School in Fairfax April 13. The gym was filled with experiments from out of this world — growing plants on Mars — to an arm’s length away — the best product for keeping hands clean.

Roughly 100 judges from the science community descended on Paul VI early Saturday morning to review the projects. Oblate Sister of St. Francis de Sales Frances Carol Eder, a teacher at Holy Cross Academy in Fredericksburg, and Leslie Lipovski, diocesan assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction and assessment, served as chairpersons.

Hannah Grace Frieden, a student at St. Leo the Great School in Fairfax, took top of the fair. St. Mark School in Vienna took top school.

Shane Seegers, middle school science teacher at St. Mark School, said the recognition of top school “is a positive testament to our commitment to science. The students worked hard all year long and it’s further confirmation of that work.”

While the experiments teach students different things about the scientific world, it also prepares them for their roles in the future.

“It helps students prepare for interviewing,” said Cheryl Day, science teacher at Holy Family School in Dale City. "Part of this is teaching them to present and express their ideas clearly and to come out with a high quality, scientifically based project.”

Erica Palaza, principal of Sacred Heart Academy in Winchester, said the science teacher does an excellent job teaching the scientific process but also how students should present themselves to a judge. “It leads into interview skills when they are older,” said Palaza. “It’s not just about science.”

The fair, hosted by the Office of Catholic Schools, brought together 266 students from 29 schools with their top experiments in 13 science fields, including botany, chemistry, computer science, earth and space sciences, and microbiology.

Michael Thieman, science teacher at Holy Spirit School in Annandale, said participating in the science fair teaches critical thought. “It’s looking at what’s happening around us. Too much of what kids do nowadays, they only have to turn it on, and it just works,” he said. “They need to understand the critical thinking behind it.”

Some students were surprised at the results of their experiments.

Eighth-grader AJ Pollock, who took second place in chemistry from St. Louis School in Alexandria, experimented with what liquids would clean pennies the best. “I was surprised by my results because I wasn’t expecting Coca-Cola would overcome my hypothesis, which was white vinegar, because I didn’t think it was that acidic.”

Holy Family eighth-grader Carley Dailey experimented with smoke and spiders. “I did this experiment to prove that things like pollution and secondhand smoke not only affect humans, but also animals, insects and their habitats,” she said.

See below for a full list of Science Fair winners for 2019:

Overall School Winners

1st: St. Mark School, Vienna

2nd: Holy Spirit School, Annandale

3rd: St. Leo the Great School, Fairfax

Top of the Fair

Hannah Grace Frieden, St. Leo the Great School, Fairfax

Behavioral Sciences

1st: Eleanor McNichols, St. Rita School, Alexandria

2nd: Lilia Miravite, St. Bernadette School, Springfield

3rd: Sofia Tehrani, St. Rita School, Alexandria 

HM: Frankie Anstett, St. Mark School, Vienna

Biochemistry

1st: Brigid Morrow, St. Joseph School, Herndon

2nd: Trevor Donnelly, St. Mark School, Vienna

3rd: Abby Walsh, St. Thomas More Cathedral School, Arlington

Botany

1st: Katherine Christine West, St. Leo the Great School, Fairfax

2nd: Caroline Fletcher, St. Thomas More Cathedral School, Arlington

3rd: Jacqueline Lopes, Our Lady of Good Counsel School, Vienna

HM: Andrew Parker, St. Patrick School, Fredericksburg 

Chemistry

1st: Anna Bohli, Holy Spirit School, Annandale

2nd:  Andrew Pollock, St. Louis School, Alexandria 

3rd:  Chris Chong, St. Mark School, Vienna

HM: Isabella Neely, Holy Spirit School, Annandale

HM: James Parker, St. Patrick School, Fredericksburg

HM: Isabelle Vu, Holy Spirit School, Annandale

Computer Science

1st: Andrew Pearce, St. Joseph School, Herndon

2nd: Soham Rajeshirke, Holy Cross Academy, Fredericksburg

3rd: Joseph Rastovski, St. Louis School, Alexandria

Earth and Space Sciences

1st: Keira Gomes, Our Lady of Good Counsel School, Vienna

2nd: Juliana Brown and Jasmine Nguyen, Holy Cross Academy, Fredericksburg

3rd: Anthony Olivera, All Saints School, Manassas

Engineering/Technology

1st: Sean Wilcox, St. Mark School, Vienna

2nd: Maria Wise, St. Anthony of Padua School, Falls Church

3rd: Mariella Lionato, St. Mark School, Vienna

HM: Adam Crossin, St. Andrew the Apostle School, Clifton

HM: Samantha Rough, St. Louis School, Alexandria

Environmental Sciences

1st: Erich Laughlin, St. Agnes School, Arlington

2nd: Paulina Gomez, St. Agnes School, Arlington

3rd: Giorgia Susi, St. Agnes School, Arlington  

Mathematics

1st: Cecilia Meunier, St. Theresa School, Ashburn

2nd: Jackson Robbins, Sacred Heart Academy, Winchester

3rd: Joseph Tashjian, St. Andrew the Apostle School, Clifton

Medicine and Health

1st: Hannah Grace Frieden, St. Leo the Great School, Fairfax

2nd: Bethel Girma, St. Ambrose School, Annandale

3rd: Allison Dunnegan, St. Anthony of Padua School, Falls Church

HM: Liliani Horcharoen, St. Michael School, Annandale

HM: William Hughes, Holy Cross Academy, Fredericksburg

HM: Bianca Linares, Sacred Heart Academy, Winchester

Microbiology

1st: Sarah Terpenning, Holy Spirit School, Annandale

2nd: Ella Newton, St. James School, Falls Church

3rd: Madison Cervenak, St. James School, Falls Church

HM: Hanna Richards, St. Anthony of Padua School, Falls Church

Physics

1st: JT Glenchur, St. Mark School, Vienna

2nd: Clement Jean Pierre Lede, St. Leo the Great School, Fairfax

3rd: Maximilian Esteban Meer, St. Leo the Great School, Fairfax

HM: Dylan Akiyama, St. Veronica School, Chantilly

HM: Claire Gibbons, Holy Spirit School, Annandale

HM: Catherine Molnar, St. Veronica School, Chantilly

HM: Olivia Newberry, St. James School, Falls Church

HM: Gavin Oglesby, Our Lady of Good Counsel School, Vienna

Zoology

1st: Sophia Spizuoco, St. Joseph School, Herndon

2nd: Carley Dailey, Holy Family School, Dale City

3rd: Margaret Kelley, St. James School, Falls Church; Reid Osborne, St. Bernadette School, Springfield 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019

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