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Move over, baking soda volcano

Alisha Self, Of the Record staff

Over a dozen burgeoning scientists from McPolin Elementary School, Jeremy Ranch Elementary School and The Colby School captured awards for their homemade science projects last Friday at the Salt Lake Valley Science and Engineering Fair (SLVSEF) at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

SLVSEF is an annual regional competition for students in grades five through 12. A total of 356 students from 76 schools in Granite, Murray, Salt Lake, Park City and Tooele school districts entered individual or joint projects in the fair to be judged by representatives from various organizations including The Leonardo, the Utah Department of Transportation and Intermountain Mental Health, Inc.

Winners at the fair receive awards ranging from plaques to cash prizes. Although no one from Park City entered at the senior level of competition, six Utah students were chosen as Grand Award Winners and each received an $80,000 scholarship to Westminster College.

"It was a wonderful experience for the students who attended," said Sheryl Prucka, whose daughter entered the fair. Projects were given special awards from sponsoring organizations and were also judged based on division and category for the overall SLVSEF competition.

"There’s not a lot of opportunities for academic competition," said Sancy Leachman, a Park City parent who helped coordinate the event. "These are very bright kids, and they worked really hard on their projects."

Three of the five projects from McPolin students received accolades. Madeline Knauer’s project, "Wind Energy," won second place overall in the elementary division for the Energy & Transportation category, as well as an honorable mention from the Utah chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council.

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Elizabeth Prucka and Micaela Berglund’s project, "Air Flow," received first prize from the Utah Science Center as "The Project Most Likely to Become a ‘Leonardo on Wheels Exhibit’" meaning their project will become a traveling exhibit that will visit different schools in the area. The duo also received second place overall in the Energy & Transportation category for elementary students and an honorable mention from the Utah section of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Griffin Siefert, another McPolin fifth grader, snagged second place in the elementary division of the Earth & Planetary Science category for his project, "Downhill Disc."

Students from Jeremy Ranch Elementary School also made a strong showing at the fair. Parker Shea’s project, "Producing Heat With a Solar Collector," won second place in the Environmental Sciences elementary category and a special award from the U.S. Green Building Council.

Maximilian Butcher’s "Family Traits" project won first place in the Medicine & Health Sciences category for elementary students.

The team behind "Popping Popcorn" — Julia Lazzaroni, Elise Saarela and Ellie Agnew took third place overall in the Plant Sciences elementary category.

Rounding out Park City’s bevy of awards were four students from The Colby School. Emily Gordon took third in the elementary Chemistry competition and won a prestigious Grand Award from the Discovery Education Young Scientist Challenge/SSP Middle School Program for her project, "Liquid Evaporation." As a grand award winner, Gordon is eligible to enter for a chance to attend the national Young Scientist Challenge in Washington, D.C. "It was a day full of fun and discovery. It was fun to meet other kids from Utah who love science like I do," said Gordon.

Brothers Derek and Nick Wilsak each brought home an award. Derek’s "Veggie Power" project won first place in the elementary Electrical & Mechanical Engineering category, and Nick took third for the Microbiology category for "Minding Your Mummies."

Last but not least, Zach Stewart, the only student to represent Park City in the junior division, received third prize for "Cosmic Rays and Cloud Chambers" in the

Physics and Astronomy category. Stewart has been invited to display his project at a celebration of the 40th anniversary of landing on the moon. "It is great to see that there are opportunities like this in Utah particularly for people who want to pursue a career in science," said Stewart.

Students from Treasure Mountain International School did not submit projects to SLVSEF, but they did compete in the Ritchey Science & Engineering Fair at Weber State College on March 18. Bryce Parry, Erin Carmichael, Kalina Martinova, Anika Gillwald, Emma Johnson, James Saarela and Ian Farkas all received honors for their projects. To view individual awards, visit .