By John Crowder
Students from Antioch’s Holy Rosary School were among the approximately 300 who participated in the Contra Costa County Science and Engineering Fair, on Saturday, March 28, 2015 at Los Medanos College. Two of Holy Rosary’s students, Scott Lombardi and Jacob Yano, came away with a third place award for their project, entitled, “H2O: If Only It Were That Simple.” Their project was one of 262 entered in the competition from students throughout the county, and was entered in the junior division in the Environmental Category.
The fair, in its eleventh year, is an Intel-affiliated contest, meaning winners advance to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. The prestigious Intel competition, the largest pre-college scientific research event in the world, brings together more than 1,500 students from about 70 countries and territories to compete for college scholarships, including one for $75,000.
The county fair was established when businesses in Contra Costa County joined together with K-12 educators in 2005. This year 130 judges, each reviewing multiple projects, worked all day and into the evening the Friday before the awards ceremony in order to complete the difficult task of selecting the winners from among the many outstanding projects entered into the local competition.
For their project, Jacob and Scott tested four different water samples: softened water, raw water, Delta water, and reverse osmosis water, for chemicals known as Trihalomethanes (THMs).
“My partner and I chose this project because we wanted to find out what was in our drinking water and see how safe it really is,” Scott said. “THMs are known carcinogens that appear in water both naturally and through treatment.”
Jacob added, “We learned that THMs evaporate before they get into the Delta, and that reverse osmosis takes out all THMs. Softened water will increase the count of THMs.”
Both young scientists expressed their appreciation for their parents, who helped with their presentation. They were also particularly appreciative of Jim Yano, Jacob’s father, who works at Agilent Technologies, and was able to provide them with access to the instruments needed in order to undertake the project.
Both Jacob and Scott are completing their 8th grade year and planning to attend De La Salle High School in the fall. Each of them expressed a desire to continue entering science fair competitions while in high school.
Jacob and Scott had only good things to say about their experience with the science fair.
“We have learned a lot and feel that this experience will help us with future science fair projects in high school,” said Scott.
Jacob concurred with his lab partner.
“I thought being in the science fair was really fun,” he said. “I enjoy walking around and looking at all the other projects and learning about what they have discovered. I also like talking to the judges.”
The county’s science and engineering fair is a program of the Contra Costa Economic Partnership (CCEP), a nonprofit economic development organization of business, government, and education leaders dedicated to retaining and creating quality jobs in the East Bay. The science fair is open to junior high and senior high school students in Contra Costa County.
Many volunteers from the county come together each year, filling roles that range from judges to support staff, in order to ensure a successful program for the students who participate, and there are many roles that interested community members can fill. For more information about CCEP’s STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics] Workforce Initiative, contact April Treece, email@example.com.