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Santa Maria Sun / School Scene

The following article was posted on November 1st, 2012, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 13, Issue 34 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 13, Issue 34

Pioneer Valley panthers talk STEM

Three Pioneer Valley High School students took the spotlight at a Oct. 12 UC Santa Barbara science conference for projects they developed and researched during the school's Summer Science Institute.


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Pioneer Valley High School junior Xavier Aguilar was one of three students to present science projects at a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) conference at UC Santa Barbara on Oct. 12. Aguilar and fellow students Edith Camacho and Jonah Mau completed their projects during the high school’s Summer Science Institute, which is led by biology teacher Riccardo Magni.
FILE PHOTO

The STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) conference attracted about 500 people from throughout Northern Santa Barbara County, as well as some of the state's most cutting-edge companies in the fields, including the Bay Area computer giant Oracle.

Summer Science Institute instructor Riccardo Magni selected three his students—Edith Camacho, Xavier Aguilar, and Jonah Mau—to present at the conference.

Aguilar investigated the sun-blocking effectiveness of various brands of sunscreen in relation to their prices. Mau tested whether dirt affects the efficiency of solar panel. Camacho analyzed how Monster energy drinks affect students’ heart rates.

Conference attendees listened to Oracle CEO Jeffery Henley speak about the importance of STEM education in the United States.

“He talked about how Oracle of course wanted to hire Americans, but sometimes they have to go outside of the United States to hire the best people to be the most competitive,” Magni said. “It was a little controversial. Some people didn’t want to hear it because it hits close to home, but the truth is we’re not getting it done.”

Magni said his students were the first from Santa Maria to be invited to the UC Santa Barbara conference, and that they represented the area well.

“The adults came away excited because they realized that the kids actually did the work. I didn’t do it for them. They know their projects backwards and forwards,” he added.

In a press release, Camacho said she appreciated the opportunity to attend the conference and the feeling of accomplishment that it produced.

“It was an awesome feeling knowing that many of our adults and some college students were so interested in our projects,” she said.

All of the projects will be entered in the high school division of the county science fair, which takes place at the UC Santa Barbara campus on March 7 and 8 of 2013. Magni is confident at least one of his students will make it to the statewide science fair at the University of Southern California in May.

Last year, two of the Summer Science Institute projects served as alternates for the state fair. In 2010, Magni’s students were the first from the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District to enter projects in the county fair in 56 years.

Magni is in the planning process for next year’s Summer Science Institute.