Regional science fair sends students to state

Tucker Gray Elkhart

Students from Southwest Kansas soaked up moment in spotlight

As hosts to the Southwest Kansas Regional Science Fair for eight years running, Seward County Community College science and math instructors relish the excitement of science students ages kindergarten through high school. Luke Dowell, dean of the Math, Science and PE division at SCCC, said the fair plays an important role for students and sponsors.

“It’s a great opportunity for students to apply what they are learning in their classes to their own projects, and to experience the scientific method on their own,” Dowell said. As public education balances a focus on state testing with budget challenges, Dowell noted, “sadly, many schools no longer require students to participate in science fairs.”

Yet experiments and individual projects help students move toward higher-order thinking skills. 

“They have to use creativity, create a method to test their own questions … it really helps them develop as critical thinkers,” Dowell said. 

Around 70 students from Liberal, Hugoton, Moscow, Sublette, Rolla, and Elkhart, took part in the Regional Science Fair March 4. SCCC chemistry instructor and doctoral candidate William Bryan headed up the event. 

“William put in so many hours organizing this event, and the rest of us just had to show up on the day of the fair to talk to the students,” Dowell said. “It’s a lot of work, and he did an excellent job.”

Thirty-five young scientists ranging in age from third grade to high school qualified for the next level — the state science fair. In a formal ceremony in the SCCC Showcase Theater, winners received their medals and hearty congratulations from Vice President of Academic Affairs, Dr. Todd Carter, Dowell, and Bryan. 

The affirmation counts for a lot for students who often contend with a cultural bias that views science and math excellence as nerdy or uncool, Dowell said. 

“When you look at their faces, you can see the excitement and the happiness that they’re being complimented by people who are equally excited about the achievement,” he said. “It’s pretty awesome.”

The pleasure goes both ways, as instructors relish the opportunity to share in their own excitement about their various academic disciplines. 

“I tell you what, we get back to work the next week, and a lot of times we will talk about the students we talked to, the projects we judged, the feedback we provided,” Dowell said. “When someone’s really enthusiastic, no matter what their age, it’s contagious, and it’s fun to share in that. The enthusiasm comes back.” 

Results from the Regional Science Fair:

Senior Division Biochemistry: 

“Intoxication Elimination”- Tierra Stoney, Jazmine Mendoza, and Saw Ahmara (Liberal High School) – Gold medal, state qualifier

Senior Division Chemistry:  

“Sudsing Up”- Troikeyia Cooper and Lupita Ruelas (Rolla High School)- silver

“Justice for Aluminum” – Monica Ontiveros and Leslie Laguna (Liberal High School)- gold, state qualifier

Senior Division Earth and Environmental Science:

“Worms”-Alexis Garcia (Rolla High School)- Silver, state qualifier

“Soil Profiles: Recovery after the fact” – Deserae Schwindt and Paige Claassen (Rolla High School)- Gold, state qualifier

Senior Division Energy (physical and chemical):

“Weights of oil” – Tayton Wasson (Rolla High School)- gold

Senior Division Materials Science:

“Which red is the cheapest and has more strength”- William Brown (Rolla High School)- Gold, state qualifier

“Frozen” – Brenda Valles and Angelica Rangel (Liberal High School)- Silver

Senior Division Microbiology:

“Oily Remedies” – Brooke Hinds (Rolla High School)- Silver, state qualifier

“Purple Power” – Rachel Jones (Liberal High School)- Gold, state qualifier, overall Best Sr. Project Winner

Senior Division Physics and Astronomy:

“Bullseye” – Alexander Hoyt (Rolla High School) -Gold

Senior Division Plant Science:

“The Lie Behind Popeye” – Kristy Alonso and Hazel Arafol (Liberal High School)- Gold, state qualifier

Intermediate Division Animal Science:

“Colored Ants” – Grace Dillinger and Catalina Gonzales (Hugoton Middle School)- Gold, state qualifier

Intermediate Division Behavioral Science:

“What did they say?” – Abbie Dowell (Eisenhower Middle School, Seward County)- gold, state qualifier. 

“The Missing Pain”- Millyzient McClure (Hugoton Middle School)- Silver, State qualifier.

Intermediate Division Biomedical and Health Science:

“Glucose Detection”- Chaseton Wasson (Rolla Jr. High)- Gold, state qualifier

“The Hearts Blood Flow” – Abigal Don Juan and Beatriz Hernandez (Hugoton Middle School) – Silver

Intermediate Division Chemistry:

“A brighter Smile” – Laeben Headrick (Eisenhower Middle School, Seward County)- Silver, state qualifier

“Catalyst vs reaction rate” – Savanna Hebbert and Braegan Zimmerman (Eisenhower Middle School, Seward County)- Bronze, state qualifier

“Bacon gone wrong” – Gavin Williams and Jaden Hill (Hugoton Middle School)- Gold, state qualifier

Intermediate Division Earth and Environmental Science:

“Disappearing Act” – Jordyn Beard (Hugoton Middle School) – Gold, state qualifier

Intermediate Division Engineering Mechanics:

“Arrow-dynamics”- Ethan Duncan (Eisenhower Middle School, Seward County)- Gold, 

Intermediate Division Materials Science:

“Ducks vs Gorillas” – Cutter Hawks and Ross Grewell (Hugoton Middle School)- Bronze

“The power of windows” – Jamyn Wolters (Hugoton Middle School)- Silver, State Qualifier

“The Tumbler Trials” – Grace Staats Gibson (Hugoton Middle School)- Gold, state Qualifier

Intermediate Division Microbiology:

“This little piggy here, this little piggy there” – Kynna Crawford (Hugoton Middle School) – Gold, State qualifier

Intermediate Division Physics and Astronomy:

“Don’t drag me down” – Gavin LaRue (Rolla Jr. High)- Gold, State qualifier

Intermediate Division Plant Science:

“What are really in leaves?” – Monte Fosdick (Rolla Jr. High)- Silver, state qualifier

“Lettuce show you what we can grow” – Macy Tucker and McKenzie Gray (Elkhart Middle School)- Gold, state qualifier, Overall Int. Category Winner

Junior Division Animal Science:

“Come little coyote come” – Carissa Sohm (Rolla Jr. High)- Gold, state qualifier

“Cat Reaction” – Chandel Conklin (Sublette Elementary)

“Dog Smarts” – Mason Unruh (Sublette Elementary)- Bronze

“Music vs Animals” – Jose Alvarado (Rolla Elementary)- Silver, state qualifier

Junior Division Behavioral Science:

“Candy Confusion” – Samantha Martinez (Rolla Elementary) Silver, state qualifier

“You Can’t Fool Me!” – Elena Reza (Rolla Elementary)- Gold (tie), State qualifier

“The Art of Lying” – Toby Headrick (Cottonwood Intermediate, Seward County)- Gold (tie), state qualifier

“Crazy Colors” – Ezekiel Trevino (Sublette Elementary)- state qualifier

“Art Showdown” – Keaton Mason (Sublette Elementary)- Bronze, state qualifier

Junior Division Biomedical and Health Science:

“Germs” – CJ Beard (Heritage Christian Academy, Stevens County)- Bronze, state qualifier

“Smelly Cat” – Savannah Montemayor (Sublette Elementary)- Silver, state qualifier

“Battle of the Senses” – Eva Teichroeb (Sublette Elementary)-Gold, State qualifier

Junior Division Chemistry:

“Reaction rate” – Gabby Bolin (Rolla Elementary)

“Rotten Teeth” – Ainsley Horinek (Sublette Elementary)

“Ingredients Matter” – Rachel Froese and Clarysa Webber (Sublette Elementary)- Silver, State Qualifier

“The Grand Brand” – Agatha Heinrichs and Helena Guenther (Sublette Elementary)- Bronze

“Intense Sour” – Leo Martinez and Ethan Roldan (Sublette Elementary)

“Rot or Not” – Abigail Foreman (Cottonwood Elementary, Seward County)- Gold, state qualifier

“What Causes Tooth Decay?” – Joe Segovia (Cottonwood Elementary, Seward County)

Junior Division Earth and Environmental Science:

“Bright Light” – Alexis Hernandez (Cottonwood Elementary, Seward County)- Gold

“Sublimation” – Angel Vazquez and Eduardo Luguin-Tapia (Cottonwood Elementary, Seward County)-Silver

Junior Division Energy (physical and chemical):

“Shakin up some energy” – Rylan Williams (Rolla Elementary)- Gold, state qualifier, Overall Jr. Category Winner. 

Junior Division Physics and Astronomy:

“Float your boat” – Dasean Lewis (Rolla Elementary)- Gold, state qualifier

“Hover Around” – Miquel Hernandez and Christian Pena (Sublette Elementary)- Silver, State Qualifier

“Gummy Oasis” – Johanna Vera and Alina Neufeld (Sublette Elementary)- Bronze

Third Grade Division: 

“Test your taste buds” – Olivia Salmans (Moscow Elementary)- Gold, Overall PreK-3rd Grade Project

“Blow it up” – Esme McAfee (Lincoln Elementary, Seward County)- Silver

Second Grade: 

 “Slime” – Brooklyn Quint (MacArthur Elementary, Seward County)- Gold


Photo credit: Faye Zimmerman, SCCC

Monica Ontiveros and Leslie Laguna of Liberal High School discuss their state-qualifying experiment with VP of Academic Affairs Dr. Todd Carter. 

Ethan Duncan of Eisenhower Middle School, Liberal, explains his project. 

Macy Tucker and McKenzie Gray of Elkhart Middle School beam as they accept a gold medal qualifying them for state, as well as an overall intermediate division category award from Dowell, Carter, and Bryan. 

Jamyn Wolters of Hugoton Middle School describes his silver medal winning, state-qualifying project. 

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