UISD students apply to the TXSEF Science Fair

Two challenged ISD students applied to the Texas Science and Engineering Fair after presenting their projects last week at College Station.

JB Alexander High School Junior Abigail Ramirez and Junior Grisseth A. Ortiz United High School won districtwide in the science fair and advanced to the second round in a statewide competition.

Ramirez competed in the Environmental Engineering category with her project “Improving Air Quality with Spirogira Algae,” and Ortiz competed in the Behavioral and Social Sciences category with her project “Can Showing Short Videos Change Stress Levels?”


This is the fourth year that UISD has attended the State Science Fair, however, this is the first time the institute has advanced to the second round.

In the first round of TXSEF statewide, more than 1,900 students compete but only 550 students advance to the second round in the middle and high school categories.

Ramirez and Ortiz shared their feelings and experiences while developing and presenting these projects at College Station. Since both students started the program online, they missed out on the full personal experience it once was, and getting this far wasn’t something they expected.

“We both joined online, so we didn’t get an in-person experience,” Ortiz said. “It’s kind of crazy because I didn’t think I’d go.”

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

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

“My class basically deals with people, and in a way it deals with the psychology of how we interact and how we act,” she said. “What I was trying to see was how three short videos would affect the students based on their pulse and see if that would improve their emotional mood.”

A questionnaire was given to students prior to the Ortiz project. Then after watching these videos, she would collect and compare the data.

Ortiz said an important component of her project is stress and how society does not focus on the topic, which leads many children to depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems.

“I think stress is something the school should take very seriously,” Ortiz said. “As students, we feel like we don’t have time for ourselves.

“We’re in school for eight hours to go home and we have four hours of homework, after which we still have to shower and eat and do other things – some people even take care of their siblings so school doesn’t really leave us a lot of time to ourselves “.

Through innovation, Ramirez has created a project that will help communities by contributing to a safe environment by cleaning up air pollution.

“I made a filter and used spirogyra algae to solve the air pollution, and the pollutant I used was nitrogen oxide,” she said. “I decided to do this project because air pollution is a huge problem, and there was no real solution to fix it. Air pollution will continue to harm the environment and people.”

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

Ortiz and Ramirez participated in Laredo’s departure for their trip to College Station that brought all kinds of emotions: excitement, fun, and nervousness.

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

Ramirez said she plans to attend either Texas or Texas A&M but hasn’t decided yet.

Both students reminded of the other presenters they had met, as they both agreed to meet very smart people and watch incredible projects. Ortiz said learning about other projects made her excited about the future, as they also tour the campus, take photos, and meet TAMU Reveille’s mascot, first lady of Aggieland.

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

The next day on Saturday, the duo arrived at the Ford Hall of Champions in Kyle Field, where the students began presenting their projects at 8:45 a.m., and the judges watched projects from 9-9:30 a.m.

The winners of the second round were posted at 1:30 p.m. the same day, and the students with the blue ribbons were judged from 2:15-4 p.m. The award ceremony took place that night from 7:30-9:30 p.m.

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

She said, “Go for it.” “It’s a great experience to be competing, and through this exhibition, you can meet new people and see what a potential major you’ll be doing for the rest of your life. You’ll learn a lot of lessons from the amount of work that goes into something that I’ve completed and it gets you that far.”

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

This program begins in the second semester in the spring as students develop their project proposal, come up with ideas and learn about the research process. When students return in the fall as juniors, they start their exams, set up their boards, interpret their data and start school-wide competition.

Next January in the junior term, students work alone for projects and compete districtwide, with the top project from each category advancing to the state level, according to United High School Science School Janet Michael Haverkamp.

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