Awards in the gymnasium

March 3, 2023


Aditi Bhaskar

The Award Ceremony took place in the main gymnasium. It was a quick awards ceremony, due to very icy weather outside.

The awards ceremony was held in the main gymnasium,  but to start off, there was a public viewing, where students and parents and community members could learn about each others’ projects in a semi-casual format in the exhibit hall. Right outside the large aux-gym windows, everyone could see the gentle snowflakes fall. They’d been falling all day long. 

Then something no one expected: a short power outage – about a second or so. Over the speaker came an announcement that the public viewing was cut short by 20 minutes and everyone was herded into the main gym to find their seats. Student participants sat by categories, with parents scattered on the bleachers.

Junior Kate Kurata says, “The snow situation was a bummer.” Everything had to be ran at 2x speed.

The ceremony started with a welcome, and then moved to the Keynote Speaker, Mrs. Nicole Day. Working towards her pHd in bioengineering, she gave a speech titled “Engineering Immune Cell Responses Using Magnetic Particles.”

Mrs. Nicole Day gives a speech on her pHd work on macrophages. She was part of the Wilsonville HS class of 2015.
Mrs. Nicole Day gives a speech on her pHd work on macrophages. She was part of the Wilsonville HS class of 2015. (Aditi Bhaskar)

The speech was interesting, but the anticipation of awards held taut over the audience. When awards started, they were recited “lickety split” (anonymous quote). First Special awards, then CREST awards, then the Special-Special awards. 

Junior Ava Riddle and her teammate won a Special award for In-Vitro Biology.

Kurata won big in the Special-Special awards. “I’m so excited for the awards I received. An OSU scholarship, and a biomedical award from Regeneron,” who is the title sponsor of ISEF itself! “I didn’t expect to win anything,” says Kurata, “so it was a shock!”

The ISEF community is really supportive and celebrates whoever wins, so after every award, there were countless high-fives and fist-bumps; numerous claps and cheers!

Meanwhile, Freshman Arush Goswami, who worked on a project with his brother this year, says “I was pretty nervous, especially when it seemed like they were going through endless Special awards without us winning any.”

Then to category awards – HM, third, second, and first places. 

Goswami says, “When we finally got called for first place in Computer Science, I was full of joy!”

Seniors Soren Tucker, Henri Villeneuve, and Anthony Herrera also placed third in their category.  

Finally, the NWSE (state fair) and ISEF (international fair) were announced.

Numerous students, including Kurata, Riddle’s team, Tucker’s team, and Goswami’s team advanced to NWSE, which will take place at PSU on April 3rd.

The top four projects were announced at the very end: the Best of Fair who were selected for the International Science and Engineering Fair at Dallas, in the third week of May. Students selected get an all-expenses-paid trip to compete internationally for ISEF Team Oregon, their schools, and themselves, to win cash and merit prizes.

Goswami was one of two Wilsonville HS students who won Best of Fair. “I was really happy as we spent a lot of time on this project and it paid off,” he says. “From what I have heard, ISEF internationals is a life changing experience and is extremely fun so I am so excited to go to Dallas and compete with worldwide competition.”

The other student who qualified from Wilsonville HS was Aditi Bhaskar. (“Yes, I’m writing in the third person,” she says unironically.) “I am super excited for my third year as an ISEF finalist, and last year’s experience at Atlanta was the best and most fun I’ve ever had.” She won third in her category at Internationals last year, and hopes to win bigger this time around!

With that, the night almost concluded – except for a short thank-you speech, coordinated by West Linn and Wilsonville Seniors to the wonderful fair coordinators, Mrs. Danielle and Ms. Emma! 

Dispersal was quick, faster than past years, since the roads, especially out in West Linn, were becoming more icy and dangerous with every minute of hesitation.

“I’m glad it all worked out in the end,” says Kurata. Goswami was “a bit sad we couldn’t have the whole award ceremony because of the snow, but I am very excited for what lies next in ISEF for me!”

It was a fun night and an awesome conclusion to this year’s fair.

The seats filled quickly as the awards ceremony neared! Students' excitement levels rose exponentially during this time.
The seats filled quickly as the awards ceremony neared! Students’ excitement levels rose exponentially during this time. (Aditi Bhaskar)