The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

27 ASI students awarded at Santa Clara County Synopsys Championships

Courtesy Liv Weiner
Synopsys participants before they go to the County Fair.

Following the Santa Clara County Synopsys Championships held on Wednesday, March 13, and Thursday, March 14, 27 Los Altos High School Advanced Science Investigation (ASI) students received awards in recognition of their submitted science and engineering projects on Sunday, April 7.

“You go into this huge building and see so many people bustling around, and you almost get slight imposter syndrome at first,” junior Liv Weiner said. “Everyone has that academic mission in their eye — but once you’ve finished your three minutes with the judges, it’s a great and fun experience to get closer with your friends.”

“It’s always nice to meet other people working on different projects,” senior Serina Cao, who has participated in two Synopsys fairs, said. “You get to visualize how science is evolving and see how younger people are coming up with solutions to current scientific questions.”

ASI advisers Tory Johnson, who mentors biological sciences projects, and Darren Dressen, who mentors chemical and physical science projects, each lead a period of selected ASI students to provide insight on students’ project proposals and facilitate in student lab work.

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“In my sophomore year, I knew I wanted to get hands-on experience in STEM,” Liv said, “ASI is a great way to get familiar with how to conduct scientific experiments and with how to interact in a science community while preparing how to discuss your ideas in a professional setting for the fairs we participate in.”

Many ASI students expressed appreciation for the course’s support and the community of scientists that ASI has built at LAHS with the help of the teachers.

“It’s your peers who push and challenge you to go into the lab and accomplish something,” Serina said.

To top off the student awards, Johnson and Dressen also received the Best Teacher Awards at Synopsys, and LAHS as a whole won an Outstanding School Award.

“I love watching the students work and see them culture cells or grow worms — most people aren’t doing that in a high school setting,” Johnson said. “Having the Best Teacher Award is also a little pat on the back for me as a newer ASI advisor, so it’s nice to get that recognition.”

“Mr. Dressen is one of the most supportive teachers I’ve had,” Serina said. “My ASI project is in chemistry, and with his prior career in chemistry, I don’t think I could have found a better mentor.

Even though most ASI students are done entering science competitions this semester, their research projects haven’t stopped — for most ASI juniors, their research will continue into their senior year as well.

“We’re never done with the project we’re working on — we just continue working on it,” senior Angely Vargas said.

LAHS will be holding a symposium in the auxiliary gym on Friday, May 24 after school. Students, parents, or anyone else interested in meeting with ASI students to learn about their projects are welcome to come.

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