Local teens headed to international arena

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By Kirsten Laskey

Los Alamos High School students Alexander Kendrick, Ryan Erickson and his sister, Holly, are science stars on the local and regional scene.


In May, the three students will see their talent shine bright on an international scale.

During the Regional Engineering and Science Fair, which was held March 6 at Highlands University in Las Vegas, N.M., each of the students earned first place in their categories as well as the grand award. Kendrick competed in the physical science category and Ryan and Holly entered as a team.

Additionally, their efforts guaranteed them a spot in the International Engineering and Science Fair, which will be held May 9 in San Diego.

They will compete with students from across the globe but these three students are not concerned with beating the competition.

The opportunity to participate is valuable enough.  

“It’s always an honor,” Kendrick said. “Just getting to international is a feat.”

Holly added, “I’m happy because as a freshman, it is the first time I’ve been able to go.”

It is also a chance to experience the international fair with friends, Ryan said. The opportunity is something the three of them have wished for a while. It’s going to be a like a vacation, he added.

Dawn Brown, curriculum specialist at Los Alamos Public Schools, said these three students continue the recent tradition that LAHS has had with sending students to the international competition. Carolyn Wurden, a 2009 LAHS graduate, competed in the international science fair three times and Kendrick will make his third trip to the event this year. Last year, he earned the “Best of“  category and first place in the electrical and mechanical engineering category. www.lcni5.com/cgi-bin/c2.cgi

“It’s exciting, we had two students who went to international last year. It’s just exciting to have this many students go and have it be three years in a row,” Brown said. “I think it’s a product of great kids and a great school.”  

Kendrick credits their success as a result of their projects tackling practical uses.

“I think the reason is both our projects are doing something practical that will immediately help people,” he said.

For instance, Kendrick said through his project, “Underground Imaging,” he was trying to detect underground conductors and aquifers using  electro-magnetic imaging and inductive couplings.

This could be applied to find water in dry areas, he explained.

Ryan and Holly’s project, “Beat the Heat,” explored a reversible one-way heating panel, which was used to see whether the concept of the linear heat pipe can be adapted into a transverse panel and if it can be caused to function as both conductor and insulator. www.lcni5.com/cgi-bin/c2.cgi

Ryan said this would help cool and heat homes in an effective way.

The three students encouraged their peers to get into the science fair action.

“It’s always fun,” Ryan said. “We just do science fair because we enjoy it. Each opportunity … it’s something to look forward to.”

Holly added the fair is more than just an opportunity to exercise science smarts. “You feel confident afterwards,” she said. “You feel confident after being judged.”

Brown said, “It’s very important for students to find a passion … It’s just about them finding a passion and finding out more about it.”

The science fair gives personal growth, she added. A sixth-grader participating in the science fair may not feel very confident but as the individual continues year after year in the fairs, they become more and more self assured and polished.

The community – from parents to local businesses – offers great support, as well, Brown said.