Majority of Marfa High School science fair projects advance to state competitions

Marfa High School students competed in regional science fair competitions at the University of Texas Permian Basin this past weekend with the help of teacher Elizabeth Donaldson. Seven out of nine teams advanced to state competitions. Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Donaldson.

MARFA — Marfa’s homegrown science wizzes, Marfa ISD High School students, traveled to compete in regional science fair competitions this past weekend at University of Texas Permian Basin in Odessa. 

Out of nine projects entered in the competition, seven will advance to the state competition taking place March 22 and 23 at Texas A&M University in College Station. 

Since November, teacher Elizabeth Donaldson’s science students have been hard at work on a variety of projects relating to photon electron emissions, fingerprint analysis, solar-powered water desalination, starlight intensity and more. “I’m super proud of the hard work these kiddos put into their project, and their hard work definitely paid off,” Donaldson said. 

She said the fact that the majority of the science fair teams are advancing to state is particularly impressive considering Marfa hopefuls typically compete against homeschooled students or those from charter and magnet schools who may benefit from greater economic resources and from parents who work in the medical profession who have “access to professional grade equipment.” 

“Our students work with what we have and put together authentic projects that are within our scope of capabilities,” Donaldson said. “As always I am humbled by the students’ dedication and willingness to compete in our state-level competition.” 

Juniors Marisa Hernandez and Tenessa Hinojos earned a gold medal and will advance to the state competition for their project titled “Pond Life, Observing Particle Pollution and its Effects on Daphnia magna.” The duo looked into the effects colloidal silver particles found in many everyday consumer products have on aquatic life and the environment.

“I had a very wonderful time with all of my friends and getting out of Marfa for a little,” said Hernandez. “I’m so thankful to have this opportunity to be going to state!” Team member Hinojos said she was glad she was convinced to sign up to compete in the science fair. 

Sophomore Piper Donaldson, daughter of Ms. Donaldson, won a gold medal for her project titled “Interactive Robotic Companion for Children with Disabilities: Ro-panion,” that explored the idea of creating a robot companion that responds to touch and voice commands.

It’s great I finally got to participate in the science fair this year, and I got a first-place medal which was really awesome,” Piper said. “I can’t wait to go to state and see how well I can do there next.” 

Even the two students that did not advance to state competitions were grateful for the experience, they said. Junior Francisco “Kiko” Rosas competed with his project titled “Plants and Their Environment: Translating Frequencies from Chlorophytum comosum Plantae into a Melody,” earning a bronze medal. 

Students and Donaldson traveled to Odessa to check in on Friday and killed time playing video games and bowling at entertainment center Cinergy before presenting their projects to the judges on Saturday. “Even though I didn’t qualify for state, it was a really fun trip overall, besides being messed with when I tried sleeping,” Rosas said. 

Other students who competed include Andres Solis, Loretta Rivera, Diego Jurado, JoAngel Davila, Ayven Pippen, Darren Campos, Christopher Huerta, Messiah Licon, Isaiah Ramos, Amaya Gomez, Raven Martinez and Ava Flores.

PHOTOS:

Sophomore Piper Donaldson earned a gold medal for her science fair project “Interactive Robotic Companion for Children with Disabilities: Ro-panion” at a regional competition last weekend. Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Donaldson.

Juniors Marisa Hernandez and Tenessa Hinojos earned a gold medal for their science fair project “Pond Life, Observing Particle Pollution and its Effects on Daphnia magna” at a regional competition last weekend. Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Donaldson.

Senior Loretta Rivera and junior Diego Jurado earned a gold medal for their science fair project “Observing Photon Electron Emissions” at a regional competition last weekend. Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Donaldson.