Students head for science fair

Incarnation School sixth-graders Francesca Legaspi and Krista Celo will be shaking things up next month as they compete in the California State Science Fair with their experiment on the stability of buildings during earthquakes.

it's the first time Incarnation School will be represented in the state competition.

In their project, Francesca, 11, and Krista, 12, experimented with different methods for creating stability for buildings during earthquakes.

In one experiment, the sixth-graders showed how cross-bracing a building using diagonal intersecting structures up and down the walls could help maintain the structure during an earthquake. That method alone improved stability by 68%.

In a second examination, the girls used a base-isolation method in which isolators absorbed energy to reduce shaking, improving stability by 144%.

When the students combined the methods, the building's stability increased by 263%.

After winning first place for their findings during Incarnation's science fair in February, Francesca and Krista advanced to a countywide competition last month, where more than 900 students competed.

They took home first-place medals in the junior division, beating about 25 students with projects in the Earth-and-space category.

During the competition, when six judges interviewed Francesca and Krista about their findings, the girls' parents were not permitted to be present.

But after months of work, they didn't let the judges rattle them.

"We were kind of nervous in the beginning," Francesca said. "(But) we weren't at all intimidated by the judges — they were very nice."

The girls have also been nominated to compete later this year in the Broadcom Masters Competition in Washington, D.C. where sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders across the country compete in science, technology, engineering and math projects.

But the girls already have their sights set further into the future.

"We might want to go into the science field," Krista said, "and look back at this for how we can help (buildings) be more earthquake-resistant."


Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan.

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