UISD students advance at TXSEF Science Fair

Two United ISD students advanced at the Texas Science and Engineering Fair after presenting their projects last week at College Station.

JB Alexander High School Junior Abigail Ramirez and United High School Junior Grisseth A. Ortiz won at the district level at the science fair and advanced to the second round for a state-level competition.

Ramirez competed in the Environmental Engineering category with her project titled, “Improving the Quality of Air with Spirogyra Algae,” and Ortiz competed in the Behavioral and Social Sciences category with her project titled, “Can Viewing Short Videos Alter Stress Levels?”


This is the fourth year UISD attended the state science fair, however, it is the first time it has advanced to the second round.

At the TXSEF state-level Round 1, more than 1,900 students compete but only 550 advance to the second round in both Middle and High School categories.

Ramirez and Ortiz shared their sentiments and experiences while developing said projects and presenting them at College Station. As both students started the program online, missing the full in-person experience it once was, getting this far was not something they anticipated.

“We both joined online, so we kind of did not get the in-person experience,” Ortiz said. “It’s kind of crazy because I did not think I was going to go.”

“I did not really think I was able to go that far but I did, so it’s really surprising,” Ramirez added.

Ortiz stated that she felt it was very important for students to choose a category for their project they liked. By doing this, they were more likely to put in the extra effort on their projects to ultimately lead to better results.

“My category basically deals with people, and in some ways with psychology in how we react and how we behave,” she said. “What I was trying to see was how three short videos would affect students based on their pulse and see if it would improve their emotional mood. “

Students were presented with a survey prior to Ortiz’s project. Then after watching these videos, she would gather and compare the data.

Ortiz said an important component in her project is stress and how the community does not focus on this subject, leading many children to depression, anxiety and other mental health problems.

“I think stress is something that school needs to take seriously,” Ortiz said. “As students, we feel we do not have time for ourselves.

“We are in school for eight hours to go home and have like four hours of homework, and then we still have to take showers, eat, do other stuff – some people even take care of their siblings, so school does not really leave us a lot of time for ourselves. “

Ramirez created through innovation a project that would help communities by contributing to a safe environment through cleaning air pollution.

“I created a filter and used spirogyra algae in it to solve air pollution, and the pollutant I used is nitrogen oxide,” she said. “I decided to do this project because air pollution is a big problem, and there has not really has been a solution to fix it. Air pollution is going to continue damaging the environment and humans. “

She added that through this project she learned about hard work, dedication and the motivation to get things done.

Ortiz and Ramirez shared leaving Laredo for their trip to College Station brought all kinds of emotions: excitement, fun and nervousness.

“It was really nice to see the buildings, especially the Zachry Building for Engineering because maybe I could major in engineering, but I’m not sure yet,” Ramirez said.

Ramirez said she plans on attending either Texas or Texas A&M but has not decided yet.

Both students reminisced about the other presenters they met, as they both agreed to meeting very intelligent people and witnessing incredible projects. Ortiz said learning about other projects made her excited for the future, as they also got to tour the campus, take pictures and meet the TAMU mascot Reveille, the First Lady of Aggieland.

Students had an intense weekend, arriving for their first event on Friday night for the “Night at the ZACH” in the Zachry Engineering Education Complex from 6-8 pm They set up their projects on the first day of arrival.

The next day on Saturday, the duo arrived at the Ford Hall of Champions at Kyle Field, where students started presenting their projects at 8:45 am Here judges viewed the projects from 9-9: 30 am

Round 2 winners were posted at 1:30 pm that same day, and students with blue ribbons were judged from 2: 15-4 pm The awards ceremony was held that night from 7: 30-9: 30 pm

Ramirez’s message for students is to consider taking this program.

“Go for it,” she said. “It’s a great competing experience, and through that fair, you get to meet new people and see what possible major you would do for the rest of your life. You get to learn a lot of lessons through how much work is put into something to complete it and get you that far. “

“In some way, I think this program could give you employability skills, because you can end up doing what a professional does,” Ortiz added. “With my project I felt like I was being a nurse on some days.”

This program starts in the sophomore spring semester as the students develop their project proposal, come up with ideas and learn about the research process. When the students come back in the fall semester as juniors, they start their testing, set up their boards, interpret their data and start competing at the school level.

Next January in their junior spring semester, students are working on their own for the projects and compete at district level, where the top project from each category advances to the state level, according to United High School Science Teacher Janet Michelle Haverkamp.

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