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La Cañada High School science fair winners will rep school at county contest in March

La Cañada High School science fair winners will rep school at county contest in March
Jonah Garland, a 10th grader at La Cañada High School, is all smiles after winning first place for his science project, "Applying Neural Networks to Breast Cancer Classifications" during La Cañada High School's Science Fair on Friday. (James Carbone)

The La Cañada High School cafeteria turned into a stage for scientific discovery Friday evening, when a small group of students flexed their understanding of the scientific method in the school’s second annual science fair.

The completely extracurricular endeavor drew a small pool of nine interested candidates whose ideas and experiments pondered the feasibility of free energy, the complications of global warming and the infrastructure of the human genome.

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Organizer and La Cañada Unified School District science coordinator Amy Nespor said while the high school’s participation in the science fair is still relatively new, the idea is to inspire students’ curiosity about scientific applications in the wider world.

“It’s about thinking about how something works,” Nespor said of the genesis of the projects. “It’s thinking about your world and either how you can make it better, understanding it or making it work for you.”

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Erin Buchanan, a 11th grader at La Canada High School, won second place for her science project, "Shed Light on Global Warming."
Erin Buchanan, a 11th grader at La Canada High School, won second place for her science project, "Shed Light on Global Warming." (James Carbone)

And that’s exactly what this year’s fair entrants did. In addition to sharing their displays with a panel of judges, student scientists presented their findings to their peers.

LCHS sophomore Jonah Garland secured a first-place blue ribbon for his project, “Applying Neural Networks to Breast Cancer Classifications,” while junior Erin Buchanan won second place for her project, “Shed Light on Global Warming.”

Spartan Yasmine Kaki, a sophomore who explored the dynamics of fading memory and age in her “Testing Memory” project, secured a third-place prize.

Garland, Buchanan and Kaki will represent La Cañada High School in the 69th annual Los Angeles County Science and Engineering Fair, which takes place March 28 through 30 at Pasadena’s Convention Center. Nespor said the county contest will be a new foray into the competitive science fair circuit.

“It will be interesting to see what kind of caliber [of projects] there is there and where we fit in,” the science director said.

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