Originally published to Idaho Press on March 6, 2022.
BOISE—Student projects from Boise High School and Timberline High School earned Best in Fair at the 2022 Western Idaho Science and Engineering Fair, and one from Treasure Valley Math and Science Center garnered Fair Runner Up. They were among 34 projects that 40 students from six Treasure Valley schools presented at the sixth annual event, which the Idaho STEM Action Center staged Feb. 25 at Boise State University.
“Identification of Potential Inhibitors of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 Envelope Protein Ion Channel Activity Using Machine Learning Techniques” by Boise High School junior Wency Suo earned one of two Best in Fair awards. In addition, she earned a Category Gold award and the Bearden Award for Women in Computer Science. The latter award, which also includes a $500 cash prize, is funded by longtime Idaho resident Elizabeth “Betsy” Bearden for the female or team of females whose research exemplifies high standards of innovation in creating solutions with computer science.
Timberline High School junior Luke Bousfield and senior James Liu garnered the other Best in Fair award for their project, “Novel Machine Learning Algorithms to Efficiently Approximate the Shortest Vector Problem in Post-Quantum Cryptography.”
The Best in Fair winners will represent Idaho at the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair in May. The winning teams from each region and their mentors earn all-expense-paid trips to attend and compete in the event in Atlanta May 7-13.
Emmett High School and Idaho Virtual Academy students captured the two remaining Best in Category awards:
- “How Does Temperature and the Amount of Dissolved Oxygen Affect a Crayfish’s Ability to Filter Blood?” by Emmett High School junior Emma Myers earned a Best in Category in Animal, Biomedical and Microbiological Sciences.
- “The Effect of Weight on Idaho Teenagers’ Perceptions of Intelligence” by Idaho Virtual Academy junior Lyric Mitchell earned a Best in Category in Behavioral and Social Sciences.
Idaho Virtual Academy earned the Top School award. The award is calculated based on total projects and total category awards, including Silver, Gold, Best in Category and Best in Fair. Science teacher Janna Privette coached Idaho Virtual Academy’s participants, which earned one of the four Best in Category awards, two of the seven Category Golds and two of the 12 Category Silvers. Privette was named WISEF’s top-performing educator.
A group of local experts from an array of STEM-related fields served as judges at the event, which is one of three regional science fairs the STEM Action Center stages statewide each spring. According to STEM Action Center executive director Dr. Kaitlin Maguire, competitions like these are important to the state’s future, offering students opportunities to engage in original research projects aligned with their interests and meet and learn with other motivated students in their area.
“The quality of the research that Idaho students present each year never ceases to amaze me,” Dr. Maguire said. “The experience students gained by participating — by thinking creatively about real-world problems, seeking solutions, and explaining their findings succinctly — will prove invaluable when they enter the workforce.
To learn more about Idaho Virtual Academy, visit https://idva.k12.com/