Niles West Students Compete at Regional Science Fair


By Teodora Simic

Students at Niles West competed in the IJAS regional science fair held at Niles North High School on Saturday, March 4.

Thirty-one students from Niles West qualified for the state science fair. Freshmen Balaji Venkat, Katherine Benstead, junior Emily Duong, and seniors Vijay Shah, Sedra Khan, and Alex Huynh all won Best in Category. Special awards were awarded to students from the military, navy, and science institutions. Fourteen students from Niles West were awarded special awards that ranged from the Women in Geo-science Excellence award to the Office of Naval Research award.

The science fair is not only a positive learning experience, it also teaches the students in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) program a lot about presenting and researching an independent idea.

“It being my second year at science fair, I had a better understanding of how it ran, but I feel that every year is still a different experience. Going to science fair every year forces me and other students to learn our projects in depth and learn how to speak and present well. These key attributes will pay off in college and the real world. STEM and the science fair helped me grow into a more confident and astute student,” junior and state qualifier Elizabeth Chin said.

The students in the STEM program have been working hard all year for this single competition. Junior and state qualifier Izabela Pop has been going to the science fair for two years now, and knows exactly how rewarding the feeling of finally competing can be.

“It’s exciting to finally get the chance to talk to people about your project, and be rewarded for all the hard work you put in to get to this point,” Pop said.

For a lot of students this year, science fair was a new and very big learning experience. Junior Matthew Adler describes learning a lot from his first year at the science fair.

“Individual research is something I think everyone should partake in, and seeing the results during science fair really show all the work put into this project. It’s definitely a life skill that I’ll put to good use,” Adler said.

The STEM students are already back at work to continue working on and improving their projects before the state competition, which will be held on Saturday, May 6, at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois.


The full list of awards is as follows:

Gold Award Winners (Poster Session):

Aishah Kothawala, Alex Huynh, Alexia Popescu, Ayman Ali, Bajeel Syeda, Balaji Venkat, Dareen Chuy, Elizabeth Chin, Emily Duong, Hana Frisch, Iemaan Khiyani, Izabela Pop, Jamie Rodica, Jasmine Varghese, Jose Smith, Joseph Aharoni, Katherine Benstead, Mahnoor Haider, Michael Leon, Muhammad Afzal, Nick Ieremciuc, Olivia Dang, Osama Esmail, John Saba, Parth Shah, Priyanka Patel, Refah Zabin, Sedra Khan, Syeda Quadri, Teodora Simic, Vijay Shah, Vraj Shroff, and Yunyan Mo.

Gold Award Winners (Paper Session)

Joelle Mako, Michael Rohn, Myra Esmail, Osama Esmail, Sedra Khan, Vijay Shah and Vraj Shroff

Silver Award Winners (Poster Session)

Christian Graca, Heba Sattar, Jacqueline Wang, Joelle Mako, Jude Matthew, Kamila Louafi, Lijo Andrews, Maham Ahmed, Matt Adler, Melony Patel, Nicholas Stochmal, Phong Lai, and Taral Talati.

Silver Award Winners (Paper Session):

Alex Huynh, John Saba, Michael Leon, Nicholas Ieremciuc, and Refah Zabin.

Bronze Award Winners (Poster Session):

Ali Chaudhry, Angel Thomas, and Maha Ali.
Best in Category Award Winners (Poster Session):

Balaji Venkat, Behavioral Science; Katherine Benstead, Botany; Vijay Shah, Chemistry; Sedra Khan, Consumer Science; Alex Huynh, Electronics; Emily Duong, Engineering.

IJAS Region Special Awards

Refah Zabin, Women in Geoscience Excellence; Lijo Andrews, Society for in vitro biology; Muhammad Afzal, American Nuclear Society 2nd; Alexia Popescu, ASM Material Science Education 1st; Refah Zabin, ASM Material Science Education 2nd; Izabela Pop, Office of Naval Research – Naval Science Award; Syeda Quadri, Office of Naval Research – Naval Science Award; Dareen Chuy, Office of Naval Research – Naval Science Award; Balaji Venkat, Office of Naval Research – Naval Science Award; Olivia Dang, Office of Naval Research – Naval Science Award; Nick Ieremciuc, ASU Walton Sustainability Solutions Award; Refah Zabin, ASU Walton Sustainability Solutions Award; Michael Leon, Air Force Award; Priyanka Patel, Water.