Lancers compete at Waukesha Science and Engineering Fair

Oftentimes, the drive behind young reserachers perpetually propels them to their own STEM-related successes.
On March 3, Raveena Mishra (‘19) and Ishan Raikar (‘20) competed at the Waukesha County Science and Engineering Fair (WaCSEF) presenting their individual scientific endeavours. This fair is one of the many affiliates, along with the Badger State Science and Engineering Fair (BSSEF), in accordance with the world-renowned, Intel Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF). ISEF is one of the most prestigious international science fairs for high schoolers.

For Mishra, this was her first year competing at WaCSEF, and it was her first science fair-related experience at all.
Shedding a light on her most novel research experiences and the scope of her work, she shared, “My project was about testing the antibacterial activity of turmeric, garlic, and clove against the bacteria E. coli and S. aureus. I got this idea from two sources. First, I observed that my mother uses these natural spices very frequently while cooking, as well as for their medicinal value. In addition, for my AP Language and Composition class, I researched and wrote an essay on antibiotic-resistant bacteria. I realized that this is a huge health crisis and began to wonder if I could possibly merge these ideas to form a project that is both feasible and meaningful.”

She emphasized the obstacles she had to overcome in order to obtain materials. This was pertinent to her success in her project because she worked on a strict timeline. “Thanks to my outstanding mentor Ms. Veronica Neumann, a microbiology instructor at the MATC, obtaining the materials wasn’t that difficult. As for the timeline, I think planning took much longer than the actual experiments because I kept going back and forth between which spices I should test. I did my experimentation in 2-3 days, and my report took a few weeks,” she remarked as she reflected on upholding her drafted methods.

Of course, with every scientific process, there are the positives and negatives. Mishra stated, “One pro is that I was able to make this project truly my own by analyzing its real life applications. This helped me get more positive feedback from the judges due to the originality. For cons, I would say that due to limited equipment, I could not be as precise as I wanted, but I made sure to let the judges know that I am aware that such an error could have occured.”

Mishra and Raikar both brought back home some hardware as well. Mishra won Best of Fair First Place, a U.S. Navy Award, and First Place in the Biology/Health/Medicine category. Raikar won Best of Fair Second Place and First Place in the Physics/Engineering Section 2 category.

Mishra vibrantly noted, “Before the fair, I was really nervous because I didn’t know what exactly to expect.
However, as the fair progressed, I realized that the judges are really nice, and I began to feel less nervous; it felt less like my project was being judged and more like simply having a knowledgeable conversation with experts in that area. I was completely speechless and surprised when I won my awards, however. I went into the fair not expecting to win anything, and I was just participating for the experience. I knew that I tried my best on this project, but felt so accomplished and elated when my project was recognized.”

When asked about what got them interested in WaCSEF or the entire science fair realm, Mishra responded, “This was my first science fair, and I enjoyed it! I didn’t know about this fair until I joined ISEF Club. I was looking for science research opportunities in the summer, and [once school started,] this club was what I was looking for! I was excited for an opportunity to learn something new in a way that is different than a traditional classroom. I’m glad I was informed of this fair through ISEF!”

She underscored the merits of research, stating how it’s still valuable because of the important life skills that come with it. Raikar added, “I wasn’t aware of ISEF Club at our school, but I did work with someone from another school. Either way, I highly recommend [participating].”

Congratulations to both Mishra and Raikar, and best of luck to them during BSSEF!