Sahuaro Science Students Win Big at SARSEF Awards


Max Becker, Sports Editor

On March 30th, 25 Sahuaro High School students attended the Southern Arizona Regional Science and Engineering Fair, more commonly known as SARSEF.  The competition showcases the best and brightest science experiments in the Southern Arizona Region, and featured 2,030 total projects this year. Of that total, 314 were high school projects, including our 25 Sahuaro entries, the most of any TUSD high school. Up for grabs were awards for scholarships and checks, with 3 winners in every individual category as well as individual donor awards.

After an exhaustive judging process, the winners were announced on on the evening of March 31st, with the actual awards ceremony taking place at the Tucson Convention Center on April 1st. Of Sahuaro’s 25 entries, 8 of them were winners. All of the winners took home checks, including an impressive $1,000 total for an excited sophomore, Halley Hughes. The following is a list of the 8 winning experiments, and the awards they took home.

Gabriel Altamirano’s experiment “How Electroplating Affects the Rate of Oxidation” was awarded the Southwest Gas
Corporation/Award of Excellence. He said, “I thought it was really cool that you can dissolve copper in electrolyte solution.”

Karissa Anderson and Serenity Guerrero’s experiment “The Effects of Sodium Laureth and Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Laureth and Laury Sulfate Free Shampoo on Human Hair Using Atomic Force Microsopy” was awarded the SARSEF Grand Award 2nd place in it’s category, as well as the TI 2nd Place High School Award. Karissa said, “I’m really into cosmetology, I thought it would be fun to test out this theory.” Her teammate, Serenity Guerrero,  said “It was interesting, and I thought it would be fun to do an experiment with my best friend.”

Alyssa Botkin’s experiment Shooting Around the Court Depending on Optical Dominance and Hand Dominance was awarded the SARSEF Grand Award: 2nd Place in its categoryas well as the Achievment in Research in Psychological Science award. She said “I wanted to help my dad out with his basketball team.”

Kendal Busher’s experiment The Result of Varying Styles of Equestrian Riding Crops When Emitted with Force on Phyllosl Licates was awarded the SARSEF Grand Award: 3rd Place in it’s category. She said “I have been Equestrian riding for six years, I really wanted to do something I was interested in.”

Veronica Duncan’s experiment Effects of Electrical Muscle Stimulus on the Severity of Scoliosis was awarded the SARSEF Grand Award: 3rd Place in its category, as well as the Best Use of International System of Units AwardAs someone who suffered from Scoliosis, she said, “I wanted to find a less painful solution, because I had the surgery and I know how painful it can be.”

Halley Hughes’ experiment  The Effect of Decreased pH Level and Increased Temperature on the Mortality Rate of Artemia Salina was the winner of  $1,000, and the winner of the Deena Jo Heide-Diesllin award. She said “I wanted to make a difference in a subject that not many people know about.” The award she received promotes women in the scientific community, and hers was one of the top projects done by a female.

Alayna John’s experiment Most Effective DIY Method of Eliminating Iron (III) Oxide was awarded the SARSEF Grand Award: 2nd Place in its category. She said, “I was working on a car with one of my friends, and we were trying to remove a rusted on rotor. That got me interested in what causes rust and how to get rid of it.”

Finally, Braydon Robinson’s experiment Renewable Energy From Anaerobic Digestion of Organic Waste was the awarded the Hogan Energy Hero Awards Outstanding Achievement in Science and Engineering Sustainable Development  Award. He said “I wanted to take available household resources and find out how much renewable energy I could make.”

There was also an outpouring of support Sahuaro faculty. Shelley Krause, AP English teacher said, “And extra kudos to Elyse Wexler.  If you look at the list, Sahuaro had more high school winners than all TUSD high schools other than UHS and Tucson High, but Tucson High has science classes that are specifically research classes.  So they have a whole year and more resources to devote to their projects in their classrooms.  Elyse and her students did this as additional work above and beyond their normal classroom duties.  Way to go to the students, but also to our great teacher.”

Mitchell Rutherford, biology teacher, added, “To echo Shelley, I have seen the amount of time and energy that Elyse VOLUNTEERED to put into this extraordinary exposè of inquiry, and it is INCREDIBLE. All while teaching her normal chemistry classes. And not only did we almost have the most WINNERS, we also had the most entries of any TUSD school. If you have a kid that completed a project, please give them a high five and/or congratulations; this was a project started in the 1st quarter.”

All of those who attended SARSEF encourage any students interested in taking honors Chemistry to participate. If you are interested in participating, they advise you to choose something you are interested in. We would like to thank Mrs. Wexler for her dedication, and our Sahuaro students for representing us so well.