Academic Excellence

Mendocino County Science Fair 2023

Written by Hannah Cheng, Selene Luong, Georgia McGaw, Cynthia So (Class of 2027) and the DVGS Editorial Team
Photos by Amy Liu (Class of 2023)

On March 18th, students from IGDVS set off for the annual Mendocino County Science and Engineering Fair located at the Mendocino College. The science fair is a nationwide science competition for 3rd-12th grade students, focusing on projects that make an impact on our society concerning current issues. During the fair, there were interesting activities and various projects from students, and they were separated according to categories of life science, physical science, earth and space science, engineering, etc.

Around 8:30 am, the students arrived at the Mendocino College Gymnasium, where they began setting up their colorful display boards and preparing their presentations. When their turn came, each group walked through their project with the judges, describing their procedures and reflecting on their greatest challenges during the testing phase.

From DVGS, there were five groups participating in the Junior Division, as well as one submission to the Senior Division. Their projects spanned many subjects, including solutions to environmental and energy issues with real-world applications.

Junior Division:

“Algae Greenhouse” by Estelle Ooh (Class of 2028) and Selene Luong (Class of 2027)
“Atenea Salis” by Cecillia Wong (Class of 2028), Anya Francis, and Josette Hanneken (Class of 2027)
“Do we really need harmful chemicals in our laundry detergent to wash away stains?” by Anna Dunnicliff (Class of 2028), Cynthia So, and Georgia McGaw (Class of 2027)
“Future Calientador” by Alysha Seng (Class of 2028), Nicole Ni, and Hannah Cheng (Class of 2027)
“Planet-saving Paper” by Utpala Stanton (Class of 2028)

Senior Division:
“Measuring the Fidelity of Short Tandem Repeat DNA Sequences in Sperm” by Katherine Wang (Class of 2024)

This year, the science fair also had a STEAM Expo component, and there were many art and science activities for everyone to participate in. Equipped with a “passport” — a list of the activities to check off— the students began visiting the different booths eagerly. There were activities like watercolor painting, testing a sand pendulum, building a small boat and making it float, and many more adventurous activities. 

Their favorite activity was one in which they stuck matches into a board to represent trees that form a forest. At that booth, they learned about the conditions they could replicate in their forest model, such as the tilt of the land, moisture levels, nearby plants, and collapsed trees. Through the activity, they were able to test and determine which conditions caused more trees to burn. With their newfound knowledge and a stamp in their activity passport, the students went on to explore the other booths and discover the various ways science and art could come together to create something new and exhilarating.

Around 4 pm, all the students, parents, teachers, and guests gathered for the highly-anticipated award ceremony. As an opening to the ceremony, the science fair had also invited student musicians to perform, and the DVGS Chinese Ensemble and saxophonist Cherry Ngo (Class of 2024) delivered a variety of enjoyable tunes, including “A Town with an Ocean View” from Kiki’s Delivery Service and “Dream of the Red Chamber Overture.”

At the award ceremony, several groups from DVGS were recognized within their categories, and two teams also won special awards. Katherine Wang’s project advanced to the California state competition that was held virtually on April 11. Everyone had a great time at this year’s Mendocino County Science Fair, and the students look forward to continuing their investigations of science, art, and technology.


Junior Division:
Life Science A, First Place: “Planet-saving Paper” by Utpala Stanton
Product Science, Second Place: “Do we really need harmful chemicals in our laundry detergent to wash away stains?” by Anna Dunnicliff, Cynthia So, and Georgia McGaw
Engineering, Third Place: “Future Calientador” by Alysha Seng, Hannah Cheng, and Nicole Ni

Senior Division:
Life Science A, First Place (tied): “Measuring the Fidelity of Short Tandem Repeat DNA Sequences in Sperm” by Katherine Wang

Special Awards:
Sonoma Clean Power Insights and Innovations in Renewable Energy Award: “Algae Greenhouse” by Estelle Ooh and Selene Luong
South Ukiah Rotary Club Data Collection Award: “Measuring the Fidelity of Short Tandem Repeat DNA Sequences in Sperm” by Katherine Wang

Special thanks to the Mendocino County Science Fair organizers and staff, as well as the science teachers at IGDVS. Congratulations to all who participated and thank you for sharing your scientific journeys with us!