Annual Synopsys science fair draws student researchers


Jin Tuan

Ellen Guo (12) presents her project to a judge at the 2018 Synopsys Science Fair. The fair has gone virtual in response to the CDC’s advisory against mass gatherings.

by Krishna Bheda, Aquila columnist

The  2018 Synopsys Championship took place at the San Jose Convention Hall on March 14th and 15th. High school students displayed their projects from 1:30pm to 5:00 pm for judges and were available for public viewing from 5pm to 6pm.

Among many middle school and high school students from the Santa Clara County of California, 51 students from the Harker School participated in the competition this year.

According to the official 2018 Synopsys website, this competition was created for STEM-minded and interested students. Students can participate in numerous categories, such as Biological Science and Engineering, Physical Science and Engineering, RRI Biological Science and Engineering, RRI Physical Science and Engineering.

When judges choose projects for awards, many are entered into other competitions such as the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair and the California Science and Engineering Fair. The science fair works with Society for Science & the Public to select projects for awards. Awards include the Grand Prizes–the Isabelle Stone Award (biological sciences) and the Castro Family Award (physical sciences). With some of those come an all-expense-paid trip to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) an all-expense-paid trip to the California Science & Engineering Fair (CSEF). Other awards just consist eligibility to compete in the Broadcom Masters Competition or CSEF. Participants are also awarded special awards which can be cash, tours ect.

Dr. Gary Blickenstaff, an AP Biology and biotechnology teacher at the upper school,  shared his thoughts on what Synopsys helps students experience and how it helps them grow.  

“[They gain] experience of actually doing research; doing some science where they have to develop a hypothesis, come up with a way of testing that hypothesis by way of an experiment of some kind, and then presenting their results, which is a big thing. Being able to take their results and put in into a format like the poster board that they can use to talk about the experiment they’ve done and explain the significance of the results [is important.]”

Students from grades 9 to 12 competed in the high school division of the fair. Shaya Zarkesh (12) has been participating in Synopsys since seventh grade.

“There was a lot of anxiously waiting for judges but there was also a lot of fun reuniting with people from other schools from Summer camps and stuff,” Shaya said.

The awards ceremony will take place at the Campbell Heritage Theatre on April 8. The ceremony will occur at 1:00 p.m. for middle school contestants and at 3:30 p.m. for highs school contestants.

This piece was originally published in the pages of the Winged Post on March 29, 2018.