The Student News Site of Ocean Lakes High School

The Current

The Student News Site of Ocean Lakes High School

The Current

The Student News Site of Ocean Lakes High School

The Current

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Students embrace the world of STEM at Tidewater Science and Engineering Fair

Junior Ahana Dutta smiles with her awards for her health sciences project on March 9, 2024. Her project on the effects of HIV-1 on methylation markers won first place in the medical division and a special award from Yale. Photo used with permission from Arijit Dutta.

The Tidewater Science and Engineering Fair took place on March 9, 2024. Out of the 17 students from Ocean Lakes who participated, 14 won awards.

“My favorite part of TSEF was seeing the final result of my project,” said junior Dylan Mach, who placed first in the category of Environmental Management and won the USAID Science Champion Award. “It’s hard to see the progress made each day, but in the end, you get to see it culminate, and it’s an awesome experience to just be at that point.”

The process leading up to the final presentation is a long one. First, students meet with chemistry teacher Babette Shoemaker, the advisor for anything related to science fairs. After finalizing a project topic and preliminary procedure, students start researching as much as a year or more before submissions are due in January.

“Personally, I took 17 months to research and learn new skills to help me implement my final project,” said junior Ahana Dutta, who placed first in the category of Medical and Health Sciences in addition to winning the Yale Science and Engineering Association award.

Ocean Lakes students placed in the top four in nine categories with five students, including Dylan and Ahana, winning special awards to commend their work. Dylan also took home the overall second place Award of Excellence.

The fair is an opportunity for students to dive deeper into passions and cultivate new skills, like programming or lab management. Seniors in the Math and Science Academy often use the opportunity to explore senior project topics or gain experience in conducting research.

When asked what advice she would give to prospective science fair competitors, Ahana emphasized the importance of gaining knowledge.

“I enjoyed taking several classes and learning more about subjects of interest to me, which reflected in my TSEF project,” said Ahana.

Dylan agrees with this approach.

“Ocean Lakes has a great science department,” said Dylan. “Take all of the science classes you are interested in, and don’t hesitate to contact teachers. Research all starts with interest, and interest often takes effort.”

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About the Contributor
Mihika Sakharpe
Mihika Sakharpe, Design Editor
Mihika Sakharpe, a freshman in the Math and Science Academy, is a design editor and first-year journalist for The Current. She loves STEM, debate, and languages (seven so far). She is a cricket fanatic and would eat sushi everyday if she could. Outside of school, she is a cadet in the Civil Air Patrol. Her dream is to pursue rocketry and make humans an interplanetary species. Her goal is to write a diverse array of award-winning articles.

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