By Michelle Kim
A junior and the treasurer of Science Olympiad at Northwood High School, Amrit Rau is considered incredibly intelligent by all who meet him. His project, which was to find a “superfast way to detect collisions between robots and other objects”, was inspired by his previous experience in robotic competitions and a similar project he observed and wanted to perfect in MIT’s aero astro lab. Using a laptop PC, an iPhone, and a few robots, Rau created eight maneuvers (M1-M8) to test the “robot’s ability to distinguish between collisions and non-collisions.” The robot was directed towards an obstacle for each maneuver and the number of collision vectors were recorded. He then changed the maneuver and camera angle for each of his sixty-four trials, and the results were that “the detector afforded the mobile robotic platform eighty-six percent mobility at one hundred percent safety.” In the duration of the experiment, Rau had discovered what he was aiming for: a “lightweight, path-inferential optic flow collision detector that opened a door to a plethora of possible applications,” such as helping impaired people. After spending countless hours on his background research, experiment, report, and poster- board, Rau hopes that his research will help create future technology that will not only benefit the physically handicapped, but also apply to other areas of science.
A junior at Sage Hill High School, Michelle Chen won an award for her outstanding project on April 26th, 2015, during the Orange County Science and Engineering Week Senior Awards. Her project considered that “the effectiveness of certain mathematical models such as the Mean Field Model is very low when [one] considers stochasticity and spatial heterogeneity in the environment instead of just using ordinary differential equations.” Her previous biological research using chemicals and machines and interest in using mathematics in biology inspired her to create a project about computational biology. She had six computers running her simulation for twenty-four hours a day for about a year. Her cell model has been used as the “state-of-the-art model to represent the growth of cell clusters,” and the improved model could be used to assist in future research such as “tumor cell growth and tissue development in embryo research. Her favorite part of the project was when she was able “to find the difference between the Mean Field Model and the Cellular Potts Model, which took into account stochasticity and spatial heterogeneity,” which meant that the state-of-the-art model she had been using was not very effective. Michelle hopes that her research will contribute to the future of cellular science.
A sophomore at Woodbridge High School, Michael Tran experimented with the question of “whether different amounts of chlorine would affect the rate of evaporation in solutions of chlorine and water.” His award-winning project was inspired by the crisis California is currently facing, a water drought, and for ways to conserve water. He had looked at pools and wondered if “different amounts of chlorine could regulate the amount of water lost in evaporation.” He had three seven-day trials for each different amount, and the experiment, including his analysis, took him about a month to complete. Tran believes that there are many “benefits into researching colligative properties that helps explain why [he] got his results. In addition, he recommends other students to create projects for science fairs because the experience he gained will help him during college for similar projects. He hopes that he can test other different ways of conserving water in California, and he states that his favorite part of his project was being present during the Open House of Orange County Science and Engineering Week.