CISL reaches out to young scientists in Wyoming

By Brian Bevirt
03/25/2014 - 12:00am

For the fourth year, CISL partnered with the University of Wyoming (UW) to recognize outstanding young scientists at the Wyoming State Science Fair in Laramie on 3–4 March 2014. Each year, CISL and UW present two special awards in Geoscience and two in Computer Science and Mathematics. CISL also provided judges for the science fair and presented an educational weather and climate exhibit at the reception after the judging. Throughout the two-day event, CISL staff talked with middle school and high school students about their scientific and technical interests that motivated them to enter the science fair.

The Wyoming State Science Fair encourages students in grades 6–12 to plan, research, organize, produce, and present projects in science, technology, engineering, and math. More than 300 students representing 26 schools attended the annual science fair, which motivates students to pursue careers in related fields.

Abigail Whitman award
In CISL and UW’s Geoscience category, Abigail Whitman of Snowy Range Academy won the junior division award for her research into radiant heating and evaporative cooling of different surfaces outside her house. Her project was titled “Out Came the Sun and Dried Up All the Rain,” and it was inspired by her curiosity about why asphalt, concrete, and grass are cooled by the rain and heated by the sun at different rates. Abigail's daily observations and measurements led her to learn about the “urban heat island” effect.
Liam McInroy award
CISL and UW’s special award in the junior division for Computer Science and Mathematics was won by Liam McInroy of Laramie Junior High School. He used Microsoft’s Kinect Software Development Kit to convert his Kinect game console interface into an innovative security camera system. His computer science project titled “Kinected Security” combines hardware and software to discriminate between pets and intruders, then it captures and stores only relevant images in high quality.
Ceirra Carlson award
The senior division award for Geoscience was earned by Ceirra Carlson of Greybull High School for her project “Nanofiber Cellulose Zero Valent Iron Filtration.” She developed an inexpensive water purification technology that can be used to improve public health anywhere in the world. She built a working filtration system that successfully removed water-borne particulates and living microbial contaminants from polluted water. Ceirra is ready to take the next step in applying this technology via field trials, and she plans to pursue funding from the Bureau of Land Management at the U.S. Department of the Interior. She envisions a safe and economical technology for the approximately 780 million people worldwide who need a reliable supply of clean drinking water.
Sarah Shader award
For her project titled “Weighted Catalan Numbers and Their Divisibility Properties,” Sarah Shader of Laramie High School earned CISL and UW’s senior division award for Computer Science and Mathematics. She also won Wyoming’s top award in mathematical sciences, which qualifies Sarah for her second straight year to participate in the nation’s most prestigious pre-college science competition, the Intel Science Talent Search.

CISL provided three judges for the 2014 Wyoming State Science Fair:

  • Marc Mueller, Science Education Specialist in Spark, UCAR’s Science Education Laboratory
  • Rachel McCrary, Postdoctoral Fellow in CISL’s Regional Integrated Science Collective
  • Don Lenschow, Senior Scientist Emeritus in NCAR’s Earth System Laboratory

CISL encourages the development of young people’s scientific curiosity and seeks opportunities to inform K-12 students about computational science and mathematics. We cultivate interest in the processes of discovery to inspire students to enter careers in science, technology, engineering, and math. We also help people understand that computational science is more than just computer programming, it is investigation and reasoning to answer questions and solve problems. These outreach efforts are part of CISL’s partnership with the State, University, and business community of Wyoming.

Marc Mueller exhibit
Marc Mueller of UCAR’s Spark education program presented hands-on science demonstrations to middle school and high school students at the 2014 Wyoming State Science Fair in Laramie. CISL’s exhibit included information about the NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center (NWSC) in Cheyenne.