Santa Fe Christian Schools (SFCS) middle school students competed in the Greater San Diego Science and Engineering Fair on March 13, 2019, with all nine students coming home with an exemplary showing of 11 awards, including four 1st place, two Sweepstakes, plus an additional 12 professional society awards. If that wasn’t amazing enough, four of those students have been selected to attend the California State Science Fair at USC this month, with three of those individuals also qualifying for the Broadcom MASTERS® (Math, Applied Science, Technology, and Engineering for Rising Stars) – the premier middle school science and engineering fair competition. Only 300 students nationally are selected for this challenge from a pool of over 2,600 award-winning students.

Each year at SFC, 7th grade students are required to complete a semester-long science project as part of the Life Science curriculum. They can work alone or with a partner on any topic in the field of science, consumer science/product testing, engineering, math and computer science. The purpose of the project is to ask a question, conduct background research and develop a hypothesis which students will test. They then collect data, analyze their results and draw conclusions. Students who aspire to the county and state levels understand that more research, data gathering, and deeper analysis are required in order to compete at these higher levels.

Debbie Culley, MS Life Science teacher, is beyond proud of her students, saying, “I know the project takes time, effort and determination. But there is so much to learn beyond the topic they choose to explore. Students must learn to manage their time, analyze data, draw conclusions, organize their notebook presentations and display boards, and of course, employ writing skills. I hope our success this year will motivate other students to follow in their predecessors’ footsteps.”

Michelle Bryant, Life Science Sweepstakes Award winner and 1st place winner in Behavioral and Social Sciences, won based on her project about earned vs. given, entitled Will Children Value Something More If They Work For It? Michelle explains, “I had 44 test subjects (3rd and 4th graders) who were given materials to make a keychain. They were also given the exact same keychain as a gift. They were then asked to surrender one or the other. I analyzed my findings and found some statistically significant results!” As far as her future plans, she wants to be an Animal Advocate Lawyer, where she can utilize her behavioral and analytical observation skills. She will go on to complete, along with Eden, Melia and Angela, at the California State Fair as well as the Broadcom MASTERS®.

Eden Stambaugh, Life Science Sweepstakes Award Runner-up and 1st place winner in Behavioral and Social Sciences, won with her project Developing Empathy. She says, “The focus of my experiment was to determine if the use of multimedia (specifically animation) would increase empathetic responses in adolescents. I realized that imagination and creativity are a huge part of the scientific method.” Eden hopes to explore art-science in the future.

Melia Crimaldi won 1st place in Environmental Science and Management with her project Cooling The Urban Heat Effect. She researched how cool and green roofs could lower the temperature in a city. Melia said, “I really liked sharing my project with all the judges, especially the representatives from the zoo, who discussed how they might use my project’s findings to grow food on the top of their exhibits.” She confirmed that her science project and participation on the SFCS robotics team have given her an interest in STEM, saying, “I would like to thank Ms. Culley! She has been a huge influence in my future interest in science.”

Angela King’s project, Helpful or Hurtful? Seeking the Most Effective Methods and Materials for Minimizing Electromagnetic Fields (EMF), won her 1st place in the Consumer Product Testing category. She explains, “I tested consumer products claiming to minimize EMF exposure, using a Cornet Electrosmog meter to determine whether or not they are helpful (assuming that the studies claiming excessive EMFs are unsafe) are correct.” She confessed that the fair was an exciting, yet nerve-racking experience.

Aaron Dumas’ project, Hydrophobic And Oleophilic Absorbent, won 2nd place in the Environmental Science and Management category. Aaron says, “1.3 million gallons of petroleum spills into U.S. waters from vessels and pipelines in a typical year. So I wondered, ‘What if we could clean up these oil spills the same way we absorb water with a dish sponge at home?’ I tested different foams, polymers, and sponges to see if any material could solve the problem. I think with more research, I could make cellulose sponges even more effective in sucking oil out of polluted water.” He conceded, “The Science Fair was very nerve-racking. It was by far one of the hardest tasks I have ever done.”

Congratulations to Michelle, Eden, Melia, Angela, Aaron, Soleil, Ayari, Amy and Ashley!


Below is a complete list of the winners and their awards:

2019 Greater San Diego Science and Engineering Fair Award Winners

Michelle Bryant

Life Science Sweepstakes Award

1st place Behavioral and Social Sciences

San Diego Psychological Association Honorable Mention

Sigma Xi: Scientific Research Honor Society (San Diego Chapter)

Eden Stambaugh

Life Science Sweepstakes Award – Runner Up

1st place Behavioral and Social Sciences

San Diego Zoo Global Award

Melia Crimaldi

1st place Environmental Science and Management

Society of Women Engineers – San Diego County Section

San Diego Zoo – Honorable Mention

American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, & Air Conditioning

Building Industry Association Cares

Association for Women in Science San Diego Chapter

Angela King

1st place Consumer Product Testing

Aaron Dumas

2nd place Environmental Science and Management

General Atomics Science Education Foundation Advanced Materials Award – Honorable Mention

ISEF Affiliate: Office of Naval Research

Soleil Matsumato

2nd place Animal Science

Association for Women in Science San Diego Chapter

Ayari Lopez

2nd place Mathematics

Amy Wolper

2nd place Consumer Product Testing

Ashley Clardy

3rd place Behavioral and Social Science

Sigma Xi: The Scientific Research Honor Society (San Diego Chapter)