Local students score at regional science fair

By: Loryll Nicolaisen, Journal staff writer
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Not only are local students having fun with science — they’re also winning awards for it. Area middle-schoolers competing in the March 21 Sacramento Regional Science and Engineering Fair headed back up the hill with awards in hand. Of more than 250 regional middle-schoolers competing at the junior division, at least three are from Auburn-area schools — Skyridge Elementary sixth-graders Bellana Roemer and Josh Sweat, and Newcastle Elementary eighth-grader Clarke Esmerian. Bellana won first place in social and behavioral sciences, as well as the Award of American Psychology and the 3M Young Scientist Challenge Award. Bellana tested how font sizes affect how people read. She wrote three different stories with three different font sizes and tested the readability on fellow students. Out of 12-, 14- and 16-point font sizes, Bellana hypothesized that 14-point font would be easiest to read. “It was actually the 12-point type size that was the best,” she said. “I believe it was because you didn’t have to jump to the next line as much as the 14 point or the 16 point.” Bellana received first place in social and behavioral sciences and also received a special psychology award. Bellana liked walking around and looking at other students’ projects. “I thought a lot of people did really good,” she said. “I thought that their projects were really interesting.” The experience as a whole was fun, Bellana said. “Even being judged wasn’t too bad,” she said. The 3M award qualifies Bellana to compete against other award winners and she could compete in Reno. For first place, she will move on to compete at the state level in May in Los Angeles. Bellana’s classmate Josh placed second in the biological sciences category and also received a 3M Young Scientists Challenge Award. Josh, a Type I juvenile diabetic, used the project as a way to test the effects of Humalog and Novalog insulin. Josh discovered that Humalog insulin was cheaper and more effective. “Being my own guinea pig was difficult but it’s helping me live a sturdier and more healthy life,” he said. “I enjoyed it and it helped me so it didn’t feel like I did work,” he said. Josh, like Bellana, qualified to compete, if chosen, in Reno. He’s waiting to hear if he’ll compete at the state level. Clarke earned a first-place award in physical science, as well as a Communicating Science Award. He centered his project on the question of how fast you’d have to go to travel across the entire visible universe in one day. Using the time dilation formula, Clarke determined one would have to travel “very, very close to the speed of light.” Clarke, too, said he was excited to bring home not one, but two awards. “I was really surprised,” he said. “There were a lot of really good projects.” The Journal’s Loryll Nicolaisen can be reached at