Recap on ISEF: State


Tonja Willey

Pictured above is Camryn Pettenger-Willey competing her project at Portland State University. She plans on making it back for State next year as well.

On Friday, April 12th, around 30 students from Wilsonville headed up Portland State University to compete in the State science fair competition for a chance to get recognized for their work—or even head to Internationals. Of these students were Camryn Pettenger-Willey, Jadyn Sherry, and Jared Wieland. Let’s get a glimpse of their projects and experiences from this event.

Camryn Pettenger-Willey, a junior that has participated in ISEF since her freshman year, took her project regarding cyanobacteria as a fertilizer to state after she qualified in her district science fair, and she enjoyed being competing at PSU. “It’s fun because you get to hang out with friends,” Pettenger-Willey recounts, “but also you get to present something you’ve worked really hard on and it feels great to receive recognition at state.” She also expresses how the fair presents opportunities to better your formal communication skills, akin to those you would use in an interview or public speaking. Pettenger-Willey placed second in her category, and she also won a Best Statistical Analysis award.

However, this year for sophomore Jadyn Sherry was the first time she has qualified for State. Sherry and her partner Linnea Collett’s project dealt with creating a biodegradable water bottle to assist in lowering pollution. “Judging was intimidating,” Sherry admitted, “but once we realized that the judges just wanted to have a conversation with us about our project, we were able to calm down a bit.” Although the girls were nervous, they ended up winning third place in their category at State. Sherry even revealed how inspiring it was to see other students’ projects and their dedication.

Last but not least, another junior Jared Wieland took his project—a revolutionary method of cancer treatment—to State as well. He had a similar response, conveying his gratitude for being able to compete in State alongside other students with the same levels of commitment. He also explained the emotions that arise when interacting with the judges. “You’re [either] clueless as to what they’re asking or it makes you feel like a prodigy knowing how to respond.” Wieland looks forward to ISEF every year, and each time he plans to come back with an even better project.

Many were successful in their trip to Portland State University this year, and for some, the road doesn’t end there. Others like senior Nathan Tidball are headed on their way to Internationals with the Oregon team to compete. However, for the rest, the plan for next year’s projects have already begun.