After receiving instruction in the scientific method and the strategies for completing a science project, Mt. Helix Academy’s 7th and 8th graders develop their own science fair project and submit it to the Greater San Diego Science and Engineering Fair. Over the past 12 years, all of our 7th and 8th graders completed a science project and every student who competed in the Science Fair’s Junior Division was awarded a prize by the Science Fair’s judges. Given the number of students in its Middle School Module, Mt. Helix Academy is among the most successful schools in the San Diego area in Science Fair competition.
Special awards for excellence
Several of Mt. Helix Academy’s students have also been granted special awards for their projects. For his project concerning the velocity of seismic p-waves, Austin Taylor earned two professional society awards at the
2008 Greater San Diego Science and Engineering Fair. One of his awards was from the Acoustical Society of America whose quarterly newsletter featured an article on Austin’s work. The other award was from the San Diego Association of Geologists, who feted Austin at one of their monthly dinner meetings. The following is the abstract of Austin’s work:
“Discovering the Velocity of Seismic P-Waves”
“In this experiment, the question was to see if it was possible to calculate the speed of a seismic P-wave and relate it to the magnitude of an earthquake. Then, if that was the case, to discover whether speed would predict the magnitude of the earthquake. This could potentially affect the death rates of earthquakes across the globe. In this experiment, the experimenter went to the USGS.gov website and determined the distances, depths, time, origin times, dates, location, and of course magnitude of earthquake events in California in order to calculate the speed of the seismic p-waves for all available earthquake events occurring between 2005 – 2007 (as far back as the USGS.gov website will allow the experimenter to go). These data were then recorded on a home-made chart which allowed the experimenter to then determine the velocity of P-waves for each earthquake event, by dividing the surface distance of the epicenter of the earthquake to the selected seismogram station (in Kilometers) by the time it took for the P-waves to arrive at that designated seismogram station (in Kilometers). This process was then repeated for each earthquake event across three seismographic locations in California. A total of eight earthquakes in California were studied for this experiment. Each event was recorded from three different seismographic locations to make a total of 24 data points for this experiment.”