Dozens of Park City students take home awards from state science and engineering fair
Max Ward-Nanney watched the award screen, reading each name carefully to see if it was his. He saw the names of those who won honorable mentions, then fourth, then third. When he read the name of the second-place winner, he thought that there must have been a mistake. He could not have won first. But he did.
Ward-Nanney, a sixth-grade student at Ecker Hill Middle School, won the “engineering: electrical and computer science” category at the University of Utah Science and Engineering Fair with his project “Aim, Click, Connect.” There were 19 individuals and teams from Park City who took home awards from the fair, which took place at the end of March.
Ward-Nanney said that he was happy to see his work recognized, but he also enjoyed the opportunity to meet kids who share his passion for engineering and talk about his findings with the judges. His project’s goal was to increase Wi-Fi strength using a parabolic reflector, which are traditionally used on satellites. He used knowledge from his science fair project last year, in which he found that tinfoil was the best for enhancing Wi-Fi strength. He placed fourth in state with his project last year.
Ward-Nanney said that he loves doing experiments because he can better understand how things work. Plus, he can figure out first hand if a new technique works rather than trusting what other people say.
“How am I going to tell the truth? I do experiments to find out,” he said.
Jaspar Ruegemer, a sophomore at Park City High, does experiments for a different reason. He hopes to find solutions to global problems, such as climate change.
“I want to get the right people’s attention,” he said. “What motivates me is to call the attention back to the problem we are having right now.”
Ruegemer won the NASA Earth System Science Award from the state fair with his project “Earth Needs to Chill! How About Some Cool Sunshades?” His project addressed the feasibility of placing an installation between the sun and the Earth to cool down the Earth’s temperature. He tested different materials and distances to see what cooling effect they had on a small scale.
He got the idea for his project from experiencing a solar eclipse in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, last year. He felt the temperature drop when the moon passed in front of the sun, and he thought that he could use that theory to cool down the Earth.
Students Sean Merrill and Liam Foehl also hoped to come up with a solution to global problems. The Jeremy Ranch Elementary School students won first in the American Society of Civil Engineers elementary division with their project, “HELP. WE NEED WATER.”
Ruegemer’s sister, Elena Ruegemer, is a seventh-grader at Ecker Hill Middle School. She won third in the “engineering: materials and biomedical” category. Her project was “Thermal Mass to the Rescue! How Does Material Density Impact Solar Thermal Storage Capacity in Buildings to Minimize Diurnal Swing?”
She tested different floor materials to see which ones would maintain heat for the longest amount of time. She also likes experiments because she can solve problems. She said that a lot of energy is wasted by floors in buildings releasing heat quickly during the night that they get from sunshine in the day.
She said that she was proud to go to state and represent Park City.
“It’s really fun to present to the judges and it’s a really nice feeling when they ask you a question and you can answer them,” she said.
For a full list of winners, visit this website.
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Park City High School students have had to adjust to remote learning once more after a spike in coronavirus cases forced the school to temporarily close its doors.