Budding scientists strut their stuff at annual competition
By Michelle L. Quinn Post-Tribune correspndent March 15, 2014 11:39PM
Annie Ostojic of Munster explains her experiment to judges during the 58th Annual Calumet Regional Science Fair on Saturday. It was Annie's first time competing in the Junior Division. | Michelle L. Quinn/For Sun-Times Media
Schools interested in having mentors come in and help with science projects should contact Lynn Wozniewski at email@example.com.
Updated: April 17, 2014 6:22AM
GARY — Lake Central Senior Kaylyn Risse counts cute nail polish, high fashion and determining whether biofilms are useful in administering antibiotics among her favorite things.
That last item, part of an ongoing experiment she’s been conducting at her second home, Purdue University in West Lafayette, was one of the projects to watch Saturday at the 58th Annual Calumet Regional Science Fair at Indiana University Northwest. In her trials, she discovered when a biofilm is treated with lysozine, antibiotics adhered to them best.
Risse’s research could be useful for doctors who treat cystic fibrosis, she said, because existing biofilms are deadly to that patient population.
Fair co-director Lynn Wozniewski was said she was exceptionally pleased at the breadth of topics covered in this year’s fair as well as the 10 percent increase in participants. Among her fair favorites were Wilbur Wright Middle School’s Annie Ostojic, whose project, “Wave Goodbye to Energy Loss,” caught the judges’ eyes during her first year in the Junior Division. Elementary Division student Zayn Shareef also wowed with his project using wind tunnels to improve wind turbine design.
Another student expanded and shrunk potato chip bags in his experiment, “A Muggle’s Guide to Shrinking Objects,” Wozniewski said.
“The judges have been very complimentary of the projects,” she said. “The final judging teams are out for evaluations, and there’s going to be lots of awards tomorrow.”
Wozniewski and co-director Kathryn Hedges would, however, like to see more schools take advantage of the mentors they provide. Natalie Dec, a senior biology student at IUN, has been with Wozniewski for five years and judged Saturday’s competition. Two students she mentored garnered second-place rankings.
“I love working with new students and getting them excited about science,” Dec said.
The top 10 winners in each division will head to the Hoosier Science and Engineering Fair at Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis on April 5, Wozniewski said. Senior Division winners will then compete for 26 spots in the International Science and Engineering Fair in Los Angeles on May 11-16.