MONTE VISTA — Three Monte Vista High School students — Claire Seger, Marissa Martinez, and Chloe Hindes — attended the prestigious International Science and Engineering Fair in Atlanta. Their teacher, Loree Harvey, attended the fair with the students the week of May 8-13.
Martinez’s project earned fourth place in her category, and she received two scholarships from ISEF — from the University of Arizona and from Arizona State University.
The International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) is the world's largest international pre-college science competition. The fair began in 1950 and is held in May every year. The fair is directed by the Society for Science, and each year the fair awards tuition grants, internships, and grand prizes of $50,000 and $75,000 in college scholarships.
“When I first got picked, I really could not believe it at all,” Martinez said. “I ended up getting two awards at the special awards ceremony and two scholarships. I got one for the University of Arizona and one for Arizona State University. I think Arizona really wants me.”
Her project was based on a habitat assessment for birds. It was based on whether the current habitats for a certain type of bird are suitable. There were 75 projects in her category.
“The awards ceremony happened, and I could not believe that I placed in that, too,” Martinez said. “Just because you get specials doesn’t mean you place, but I placed fourth and there were 75 projects in my category. I cried some because I did not really think it would happen.”
Martinez, who just completed her junior year at MVHS, is looking forward to next year. She was grateful for everyone’s help getting her to Atlanta.
“ISEF was a wonderful experience, it taught me so much about diverse cultures and different projects,” Martinez said. “I want to thank Ms. Harvey and my friends. With this whole project, I had a lot of breakdowns, but they were all there for me. I wanted to quit sometimes, and they kept me going. I really want to thank them.”
All three students attended regionals and advanced to ISEF. Two students were chosen out of each category to advance to ISEF and an alternate. Seger placed first in her category and advanced to ISEF, while Hindes was an alternate.
Seger’s project was based on academic occurrences throughout the pandemic.
“Basically, what I did was I analyzed the students from the Monte Vista High School’s GPAs over the last four years, just to see how they progressed or digressed over COVID,” Seger said. “I found that pretty much everyone went down except for seniors who went up. I also found that factors like ethnicity, gender, and income level also had an influence on that.”
Seger took first place in the Behavioral and Social category at regionals. , she was one of the two students chosen. Seger explained that for an ISEF entry you had a virtual board.
“So, you submit a paper, then you submit a video of you talking about it, and then at actual ISEF you had a typical science fair board that you would present with,” Seger said.
Seger said that it was her first time in an airplane when she traveled to Atlanta, and she really enjoyed it.
Seger said she met a lot of people at ISEF; some she is trying to remain in contact with. She thanked Harvey and her mother for their support throughout her project and in attending ISEF. Although Seger did not place at ISEF, she enjoyed the experience.
“I would like to try to go again. I have three more years to try again, and I am looking forward to doing that,” she said.
Hindes’ project was based on bacteria that eat plastic. She explained that her project was relevant to environmental factors.
“I had this bacteria with an enzyme, that breaks down type one plastic,” Hindes said. “So, I tried to optimize the bacteria to see how I could make it eat plastic faster, but unfortunately, what I found was, the rate is too slow, and supplements would need to be added to optimize the plastic being eaten by the bacteria faster.”
Hindes also credited her teacher for helping her with statistics for the project and helping her obtain the bacteria as it was a substance she could not have obtained on her own. Hindes did not place at ISEF.
“It was an amazing experience just to get that far, and to just to see everyone there,” she said. “So, many different projects and cultures of people, it was just amazing.”
Hindes graduated from Monte Vista High School on May 14 and plans to go into chemical engineering in college.
“I am proud of all my accomplishments, but this by far was one of the coolest ones I had,” Hindes said. “I want to thank Carlos Ochoa for all his help and support on my project.”
Harvey was proud of all three girls who attended ISEF and proud of all her students that went to regionals.
“This is all about a team effort. These kids put in the time together, they collaborate,” Harvey said. “I have been to many of these regional and ISEF competitions and it always amazes me, the different cultures, the way these kids network, the friendships they make, and the things they learn. Being their teacher is so worth it to me. I am so proud of how far these kids have come and how far they will all go. Congratulations to all my students.”