Local students shine: Two headed to regional science fair; one to international fair

Times Staff Report
Staff Writer

Despite rain and snow and a still-escalating pandemic, the Mono County Science Fair soldiered on this winter with two students – Lee Vining Elementary student Jack Long and Lee Vining High School student Ellery McQuilkin – qualifying to head to the regional Science Fair in May.

A Mock Trial event also soldiered on, with a Coleville/Lee Vining group of students advancing to the state competition.

“It is with much pride and excitement that we announce the results of the 2020/2021 ‘Mono County Student Events,’” said the Mono County Office of Education, which hosted the science fair and the Mock Trial. “As with all things over the past year, there have been many challenges, some disappointments and some cancelations (the Spelling Bee and Mathcounts Programs were cancelled) but... (we are pleased that) the Mono County Science Fair was held in February and two local, budding scientists were advanced to the regional science competition where they won numerous awards for their projects.”

For the science fair, Lee Vining Elementary school participant Jack Long presented a “thorough investigation” into the question of whether the ultra-saline Mono Lake could freeze, in a presentation titled “Mono Lake: Is it Cool Enough to Freeze?” according to the Mono County Office of Education.

Long was then awarded the Gold Medal in the Elementary Physics Division from the Regional Science Fair in March.

Lee Vining High School Junior Ellery McQuilkin, a former, multiple winner at many science fairs, took home an impressive suite of state, regional and international science fair awards this year, MCOE said.

“Lee Vining High student Ellery McQuilkin was the star of the... fair with her project entitled “Quantifying Volume of the Dana Glacier Using Field Measurements and 3D Modeling,”” the county said.

McQuilkin won 10 awards, including Senior Division-Earth & Environmental Sciences, the Science & Technology Education Partnership (STEP) award, the Professional Engineers in California Government (PECG) Award, the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) award, the NASA Earth System Science award, the Association of Women Geoscientists award, the American Meteorological Society award, the EPA award, Sweepstakes winner and advanced to both the California State Science and Engineering Fair and the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF finalist), according to MCOE.

Other North County students also took part in a virtual ‘Mock Trial’ this winter, advancing to the state competition, MCOE said.

“Also, in February, Coleville High School students and Lee Vining High students took to a virtual courtroom to argue their cases in front of the Honorable (Mono County Superior Court) Judge (Mark) Magit as part of the Constitutional Rights Foundation’s Mock Trial competition,” MCOE said this week. “Lee Vining was named the winning team, but due to scheduling conflict, Coleville represented Mono County at the State competition in March.

Congratulations to all of the students, Beverly Altamirano, Aiden Anderson, Jessica Calderon, Josie Calderon, Strom Donahue, Andres Garcia, Fiona Godoy, Jennifer Gomez, Emiliano Gonzalez, Emily Gonzalez, Alondra Gutierrez, Dylan Harshman, Jayden Jerrett, Archer Little, Avry Little, Samantha Lopez, Ellery McQuilkin, Karly Pemberton, Jade Perez, Grace Pinochi, Catarino Reeve, Lacey Reid, Andre Santillan, Sergio Santillan, Alden Seiberling, Gavin Sotelo, Zach Tackitt, Ana Wanner, Laurea Wanner, Thomas Watson and Joey Wells for their hard work and tenacity at arguing their cases,” MCOE said.

None of the work of the students would have been possible without the support of many local teachers, judges, and others, MCOE said.

“Thank you to our local judges John Stavlo, Virginia Chadwick and Clay Murray who shared their expertise and time to make the (science fair) event a success,” they said.

“Thank you to team coaches Jamie Godoy and Robert Remington as well as the scorers of the event Christy Milovich, Todd Graham and David Anderson for their time and expertise (for the Mock Trial event),” MCOE said.

• For more information on Mock Trial, visit https://www.crf-usa.org/mock-trial-program/mock-trial-program.html
• For information on the upcoming International Science Fair visit https://www.societyforscience.org/isef/