On Friday, January 31st, local La Cañada private schools, The Learning Castle and La Cañada Preparatory, held their 21st-Annual Science Fair. Over 95 entrants, ranging in age from eight to thirteen, proudly displayed their experiments which covered eight different scientific disciplines.
The TLC/LCP Science Department, headed by Annette Kiureghian and Steve Miller, began the science fair in 2000 as an experiment with a very simple hypothesis: elementary school students are capable of presenting a science fair project for judging and public viewing. With 100 students in their control group, the conclusion reached at the end of that first fair experiment was a resounding, “Yes!” Over the years, it has grown into one of the most highly anticipated events on the school calendar.
“It is important to motivate students with science,” said TLC head science teacher, Annette Kiureghian. “They can explore, research, and learn new concepts. Students can also share their projects and ideas with their teachers, parents, friends and classmates.”
Mrs. Kiureghian went on to say that the judges were very impressed with the high level of work being done by all the students.
“Science fair is so much more than a science experiment,” said Ashley West, head science teacher for fourth, fifth and sixth grades. “No matter how simple or complex the experiments were, every student learned the value of time management and executive skills. Not everything went as they planned, so they developed grit by being faced with the challenges that come along with experimentation.”
The top seventh-grade projects will be considered for admission into the Los Angeles County Science Fair, the annual science and engineering fair for public and private middle and high school students being held at the Pasadena Convention Center on March 19th through 21st.
Parent volunteers are key to the success of an event of this magnitude. Scores of parents are required to help set up and break down the tables, decorate the gymnasium, provide lunch and refreshments for the judges, and of course, to be the judges themselves.
“We are so fortunate to have so many generous and gifted parents from the fields of medicine, dentistry, pharmacology, engineering, and science to serve as judges,” said Terry Villanueva, Director of The Learning Castle and La Cañada Preparatory. “They are very busy people who give up most of their day to be here for this event.”
Judges for this year’s fair were Dr. Luciana Alves, Dr. Hamlet Avanesian, Dr. Regina Baker, Dr. Craig Baker, Dr. Jack Bayramyan, Dr. Nathalie Blume, Dr. Patrick Gabikian, Dr. Sara Hakopian, Dr. Tina Harutunians, Dr. Prash Jayaraj, Dr. Armen Kazanchian, Dr. Michael Keller, Dr. Leila Khorasani, Dr. Michael Korkin, Dr. Kenneth Liu, Ms. Hema Maheshwari, Dr. Arpi Mardirossian, Dr. Debbie Mitra, Ms. Blair Mostofi, Dr. Cameron Nouri, Dr. Arman Petrosyan, Dr. Marianna Petrosyan, Ms. Jane Preethi Jayaraj, Dr. Ahmad Ali Quereshi, Dr. Marta Recasens, Dr. Ayman Salem, Ms. Meghan Salem, Dr. Patty Wu, Mr. Joseph Yacoub, Dr. Huaibei Zhou, and Dr. Saima Zubair.
On February 7th, a special awards assembly was held to recognize the students with the top-three projects in each grade along with honorable mentions and awards for merit. Over two hundred students and parents attended the ceremony.
Steve Miller, the head science teacher for seventh and eighth grades, told those in attendance that, “Survival and success in modern society means that each of us—whether artist, teacher, janitor, or physicist—needs to understand some science and to think scientifically. As a community, we face decisions about our diet, environment, and economy that require an informed public.”Merit Awards, for those projects not recognized by the judges but deemed worthy of recognition by the science department, were given to third graders, Ahan Guda, Evan Jayaraj, Maneh Khudyan, Nicolette Mirzakhanian, Emma Oliva and Jacqueline Tatosian; fifth graders, Natalie Esmailian, Casey Gmelich, Hannah Korkin, Jenna Nouri, Fiona Sheldon and Nicholas Sue; and seventh graders, Max Aarons, Andrew Khudyan, Christa Kudaverdian, Ambrose Luo, Sienna Ovanespour and Zara Savadian. Honorable Mentions were handed out to third graders, Katya Hadjistyllis, Hailey Hong and Dylan Polanco; fifth graders, Andrew Harutunians, Sevan Keshishian and Verena Saied; and seventh grader David Bagdasarian. Third-place honors went to third graders, Alexandra Oganesyan and Erin Sagkan; fifth graders, Sahen Kakadia and Violet Lee; and seventh grader, Kent Yen. Second place went to third graders, Katelyn Baker and Niko Farris; fifth grader, Emily Petrosyan; and seventh grader, Ludovico Cordara. First-place honors went to third grader, Zoya Qureshi; fifth grader, Skylar Thomas; and seventh grader, Nolan Cheng.