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Laramie, Greybull Students Top State Science Fair Winners

March 10, 2011

Three members of one Laramie family were among the top five place winners in the Wyoming State Science Fair this week at the University of Wyoming.

Natalie, Maurice and Gabriel Shih placed first, second and fourth, respectively, in the senior division of the annual state science fair that attracted more than 300 students representing 41 Wyoming schools. The other top two winners represented Greybull High School.

Laramie High School's Natalie Shih was the overall top winner, competing in the biochemistry category with her project titled "Unusual Cold Denaturation of the Small Protein Domain." It also was judged the top biochemistry project.

Maurice Shih, Laramie Junior High School, was the runner-up with his project, "The Comparison of the Quadratic Sieve and Iterated Function Method of Factoring Efficiency." He also won the computer sciences competition.

And Gabriel Shih, Laramie High School, won the mathematical sciences division and was ranked fourth overall with "Continued Fractions and Mathematical Constants."

Greybull High School's Jessica Hunt, with her winning environmental management project, "Application of Hydrothermal Mesophiles as a Control for Oil Contamination," placed fourth overall.

Travis Sylvester, also of Greybull High School, in earth and planetary sciences, was ranked fifth with his project, "Soil Amendment Variations: Their Role in Improving Surface Mine Reclamation." He also placed first in the earth and planetary sciences division.

The students will represent the Wyoming State Science Fair at this summer's International Science and Engineering Fair in Los Angeles, Calif.

Three Junior Division Sweepstakes Awards of Exceptional Merit also were presented at the state science fair. Student projects were not ranked; the three sweepstake winners and the category they competed in were:

Lia Eggleston, Snowy Range Academy, Laramie, mathematical sciences division, "Prove It: A Study of Tessellations of Right, Equilateral, and Isosceles Triangles."

Jacob Lock, Alan Halverson and Andrew Halverson, Monroe Intermediate School, Green River, engineering-electrical and mechanical, combined on "Destructive Force of Ancient Siege Weapons."

Samuel Rovani, Snowy Range Academy, Laramie, environmental sciences, "Jack and Jill Went Up the Hill to Fetch a Pail of Nitrates???"

The State Science Fair encourages students in Wyoming grades 6-12 to plan, organize, research, prepare and present a project of their interest.  It provides students with real-life science experiences, interactions with professionals in the field and review and application of relevant research, says Wyoming State Science Fair Coordinator Beth Rintz, from UW's Science and Math Teaching Center.

Eight regional fairs were held throughout Wyoming in late January and early February, with winning students and their projects advancing to the Wyoming State Science Fair. Students participated in 17 different categories -- animal science; behavioral and social sciences; biochemistry; cellular and molecular biology; chemistry; computers; earth and planetary sciences; engineering;  electrical and mechanical engineering; materials and bioengineering; energy and transportation; environmental management; environmental sciences; mathematics; medicine and health sciences; microbiology; physics and astronomy; and plant sciences.

Through interviews and interactions, student projects were judged by UW and community professionals and experts within the various categories. More than 100 judges evaluated student projects. Winning students received awards.

The state science fair is supported by donations from UW departments in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines and UW colleges of Engineering and Applied Science, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Health Sciences, Education, Arts and Sciences and the School of Energy Resources.

For a complete list of the 17 category winners, visit the State Science Fair website at

1000 E. University Ave. Laramie, WY 82071
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