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Lower Valley school science researches take world stage

Cedarcrest High School science students and Honors Science Researchers Thorsen Wehr, a sophomore, and Isaac Harper, a freshman, returned from Phoenix, Ariz., and the 2013 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair as International Winners.

The Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, a program of Society for Science & the Public and the world's largest international pre-college science competition, is the premier global science competition for students in grades 9–12. This year, the science collaboration provided a forum for nearly 1,700 high school finalists from 70 countries, regions, and territories to display their independent research.

Proudly representing Cedarcrest High School, the Central Sound Science and Engineering Fair, as well as Washington State, Thor and Isaac were called to the World Stage for outstanding research in their respective categories:

Thor earned third place in the category of Physics and Astronomy with his research, “Focusing Sound Waves Using a Two-Dimensional Non-Linear System.” In dry air, sound waves travel l8x slower than in more dense materials, such as steel. Focusing sound, or the acoustic lens effect, was governed by this principle. A non-linear acoustic lens for redirecting longitudinal waves was engineered and assembled. During Experimental in both Center trials and Right-side trials, a non-linear acoustic lens had a force applied to each chain depending on the chain number from the desired focal point. This research was considered a success because the acoustic lens produced a considerable increase in relative amplitude at a specific focal point in both Center and Right-side trials.

Isaac earned thirdin the category of Cellular and Molecular Biology with his research entitled, “Enhancing Maturation of Human Induced Pluripotent Stem-celled Derived Cardiomyocytes by Triiodothyronine and Nanopatterned Substrate.” Recent advances in stem cell research have introduced new options for scientists to investigate potential treatments for regenerating damaged cardiac tissue and avoiding high-risk and high-cost treatments such as open heart surgery or cardiac transplantation. The findings of the current study were two-fold: 1) hiPSC-CMs treated with T3 yielded larger cell sizes and better myofibrillar length, and 2) hiPSC-CMs cultured on nanopatterned substrates had greater length-to-width ratios and improved cell orientation.

The competition was very demanding as only 25% of the finalists make the Grand Award Stage. Former CHS science educator, Bruce Murdock, also attended this year’s ISEF representing the Regional and State Science Fairs and noted the boys’ successes mark the first time Cedarcrest High School has earned a Grand Award at ISEF, as well as for the Central Sound Science and Engineering Fair. Congratulations go to Alexandru Budisteanu of Romania who won the Overall Best-of-the-Best Gordon E. Moore Grand Prize including $75,000 and all of the accolades which accompany the award. Thor and Alexandru are friends from a different science forum they both attended last year in Houston, Texas: I-SWEEEP; it was exciting to see a familiar face win it all! After the Grand Award Ceremony both Thor and Isaac were interviewed for a Japanese television documentary regarding science research…details to come!

“It continues to be refreshing that students like Thor, Isaac, and so many other incredible CHS students, who persistently give their very best, are rewarded for their hard work,” claims Mr. Wehr, “But it is also a testament to our research methodology within the entire Cedarcrest High School Science Department. When our methods and analysis are being critiqued by international scientists in their professional fields, and we end up with Grand Awards…well, it’s nice to know we are doing things right.”

 

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