Northwood shines at OC Regional Science Fair


Aya Takase-Songui

SCIENCE MATTERS: Sophomore Anika Bhat (middle) collects her medal at Chapman University after advancing to the state level competition, winning second place in the Physiology/Medical division of OCSEF for her investigative science project.

Eugenie Chang, Managing Editor

Students across the Irvine Unified School District came together to celebrate and showcase their accomplishments in the 68th Annual Orange County Science & Engineering Fair at an open house and awards ceremony held at Chapman University on March 19.

This year, multiple Northwood students participated in OCSEF, qualifying to enter in the Senior Division after placing first at the annual IUSD Science Fair.

Sophomore Aishwarya Ramasubramanian received a special award from Office of Naval Research, juniors Katherine Ke and Kira Matusoka received Honorable Mention in Environmental Science/Environmental Engineering, sophomores Anna Cho and Anika Bhat received Honorable Mention and second place respectively in Physiology/Medical Biology, sophomore Arnav Dhar placed second in Math and Software, freshman Sebastian Alexis placed first in Mathematics and Software and senior Annabel Tiong placed first in Biochemistry/Molecular Biology.

With a total of 20 different categories ranging from Electricity and Electronics to Earth Science, students had the ability to submit a project in nearly any scientific field that intrigued them.

Each participant shared their research findings in a presentation followed by questioning from judges on the OCSEF panel on March 8, ahead of the award ceremony.

“I’ve been interested in biology since middle school, but that’s a really broad field so I decided to focus on immunology because I was interested in how the body fights cancers,” Bhat said. “When I began researching human cancer resistance mechanisms, I learned about the naked mole rat and its unique response to cancer that allows it to live longer, and that’s when I found what I wanted to study more.”

Although the research was student-driven, Northwood’s science teachers also served as mentors to support students during the science fair process, lending their general experience in the scientific field to help answer inquiries and develop student projects.

“A lot of the time I may not know the content very well, so it’s more about brainstorming and being their thought partner,” science teacher Nelly Tsai said. “They have to do a lot of research, but when they bring the data to me we look at it together.”

Winning projects qualify for submission to the California Science & Engineering Fair, which was held virtually on April 11. In addition, they will have the opportunity to present their findings at a research conference in May at Chapman University.