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Jackson High School students win awards and cash at WSU STEM fair

The team of Indira Rayala, Hannah Cho, and Celia Evans from Jackson High School earned first place in the Biofuels Challenge for their research at WSU's Imagine Tomorrow STEM Fair.
Andy Sevald, Co-advisor; Indira Rayala, Hannah Cho, Celia Evans, and Kim Griggs, co-advisor with 1st place awards. Photo credit: Everett Public Schools.

By Mary Waggoner, Everett Public Schools Director of Communication.

On May 18-19, 2013 four teams comprised of ten students from the H.M. Jackson High School’s Engineering and Research club competed against students representing 54 schools from Washington, Idaho and Montana at a STEM fair called Imagine Tomorrow hosted by Washington State University in Pullman.

The team of Indira Rayala, Hannah Cho, and Celia Evans earned first place in the Biofuels Challenge for their research entitled “The Effect on Methane Production during the Anaerobic Digestion of Cow Manure Along with Bio-degradable Plastic.” This award earned each team member $1,000 and $5,000 for Jackson High School.

Four teams consisting of ten students: Miranda Aiken, Hannah Cho, Celia Evans, Artyom Kozorezov, Akshy Palanisamy, Shruti Parikh, Brooke Parsons, Indira Rayala, Anastasia Redina and Madison Warnke, competed in this STEM fair.

The school also brought home the award for Best Project by a Team from a Newly Participating School. That newbie award earned each of the ten students $100 and another $500 for Jackson High School.

This STEM fair challenges ninth through 12th-graders to look for new ways to transition to alternative energy sources. Students research complex topics about renewable energy; then create technologies, designs, or plans to mobilize public behavior. They forge connections in their communities and create positive change.

In addition to monetary prizes, all ten students had the opportunity to present their research to over 140 scientists from companies and organizations such as Boeing and NARA; many were offered internships. Each is also now eligible and recommended for the Washington State University Scholar Program if they choose to attend college there.

“These three students now have $1,100 dollars in their pockets, and we have $5,500 to start on projects for next year!” said Kimberly Griggs, Jackson High School’s Engineering and Research Club co-advisor speaking of the first prize winning team of Indira Rayala, Hannah Cho, and Celia Evans.

“We really want to thank Dr. Bob Sotak for helping this team in particular because earlier this year he sat down with students and devised a more economical way to measure methane production. Without his chemistry advice, this project would have never been this successful,” added Andrew Sevald, Engineering and Research Club co-advisor.

This is the first year for co-advisors Kim Griggs and Andy Sevald, and they are receiving kudos all around.

“You continue to make Jackson High School and Everett Public Schools very proud! Keep up the wonderful work you do for our students,” said Carl L. Fender, Director, Career and Technical Education.

“This is a wonderful accomplishment. It is great when students have the chance to solve real problems and to see that their ingenuity literally pays off!” said Dr. Catherine Matthews, Interim Associate Superintendent.