Sophomore Jasmyn Austin and junior Madina Zermeno win first place at the SUHSD science fair for their project on “The effectiveness of Phosguard on Polluted Water.” Their project, in addition to 11 others from BVHS, will be considered for the Greater San Diego Science and Engineering Fair on March 4. Photo by Katherine Neuner.


Katherine Neuner


At the district-level Sweetwater Science and Engineering Fair on Feb. 7 at Otay Ranch High School, BVHS had 12 entries. Of these entries, all students won third place or higher, giving them the opportunity to apply for the Greater San Diego Science and Engineering Fair at the county level on March 4.

“We had more participants last year but the people that participated did extremely well. I’m proud that they all did it, because you have to go out of your comfort zone,” Accelerated, Advanced Placement , International Baccalaureate  Biology teacher and science fair advisor Michelle Mardahl said.

Mardahl attributes the success of BVH science fair participants in part to their learning in accelerated biology.

“They know what to do. Our accelerated classes train students to make good lab reports and make good posters. It starts there,” Mardahl said.

Junior Madina Zermeno and sophomore Jasmyn Austin partnered at the district science fair using their project from last year’s accelerated biology final. Zermeno and Austin won first place for their presentation on “The Effectiveness of Phosguard on Polluted Water.”

“Last year for the final we had to do something [related to] some kind of pollution problem. I love doing that kind of stuff. I definitely want to go into environmental science and advocacies for climate change,” Zermeno said.

In addition, the Science Fair Club helped BVH students to develop their projects, a program which began this year. Junior Emma Rand, president of the club, ran Friday meetings to discuss projects and work on posters with students. Additionally, the club held a poster-making party the Saturday before SSEF to prepare for the fair.

“I decided to start it because after last year’s science fair, Dr. Mardahl mentioned how nice it would’ve been to have a club for the event, so that everything could have been organized better. I also thought it would be a good opportunity to spread word about science fair,” Rand said.

According to Mardahl, participating in science fair is also valuable in the long-run. For example, she attributes the acceptance of her former student, Ariana Andere, into a research lab at Brown University to her experience in this activity.

“You can always put this on your resume and it’s job experience. Ariana was filmed by National Geographic at the county fair,” Mardahl said. “That started at science fair. I mean, you never know who you’re going to get.”

All 12 entries are now able to enter their projects as powerpoints into GSDSEF, to determine if they will be accepted into the county fair. Here, students can win society awards, including those in the topics of: women’s science, toxicology, biochemistry and clean water. In addition to this opportunity, students will be considered for the California State Science Fair on Apr. 24-25.

“Science Fair isn’t as nerve-wracking or strict as a lot of people may think. You can get scholarships and funds for participating if you go to the county Science Fair. A few of last year’s participants did, which is great because it looks fantastic on your college applications. I really encourage students to participate because it’s a great experience and open to everyone,” Rand said.