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Tuesday, March 7, 2006 - Page updated at 12:53 AM


Biotech Expo draws science-savvy crowd

Seattle Times Eastside bureau

It all started with a love of science-fiction TV shows and movies, said Troy Underbrink. Some of Star Trek's spaceships ran on biocomputers — could such a thing really exist?

Many hours of research later, the Juanita High senior proudly showed off his project on biocomputers — computers made with organic components, some of which are tiny enough to swim in a drop of blood — Monday during the sixth Student Biotech Expo.

More than 300 students from a dozen area high schools presented projects ranging from gerbil genetics to human cloning, viruses, mental disorders and ethics in bioscience during the event at Bellevue's Meydenbauer Center.

First-place winners

First-place winners in each category at Monday's Student Biotech Expo in Bellevue.

Art: Michelle Isacson, Juanita High School, A Progressive Look into Living with Alzheimer's

Career/Industry: Emma Kallaway, Shorewood, SBRI Annual Report

Drama: Pippin Myler, Shorewood, Malaria in Motion

Genomics: Marian Deuker, Ballard, Qualification of DNA Samples of Pharmacogenetic Studies

Histology: Raymond Larsen & Matthew Wald, Mercer Island, A Comparative Study of the Vertebrate Brain

Molecular Modeling: Jessica Winkler, Juanita, Trust in Trastuzumab

Multimedia: Ryan Park & Garrett Quesnell, Shorecrest, Evolution of the SARS virus

Music: Luke Fidler & Michael Lang, Ingraham, Influenza & the New Threat of Avian Flu

Research: Marian Deuker, Ballard, Qualification of DNA Sample Method for Pharmacogenetic Studies

Teaching: William Bond, Shorecrest, Where Has All the Good Food Gone?

Writing-Creative: Alison Rambaldini, Eastside Catholic, TJ and Me: Our Adventures in the Bloodstream

Writing-Journalism: Sheida Aalami, Ballard, HSAN Type IV

Web Site: James Rimbakusumo, Shorecrest, Avian Influence: Past, Present and Future

People's Choice: Beyond the official categories above, students voted for a People's Choice winner: Jaimie Silver, Eastside Catholic, Music — The Tragedy of Alzheimer's

Judges' Award of Excellence: Juanita High School

The expo is a new type of "science fair" that promotes learning about biosciences, particularly biotechnology and biomedicine, through a range of nontraditional avenues, said Jeanne Chowning, education director for Northwest Association for Biomedical Research, which puts on the Expo. Each student was paired with a mentor in the field he or she was researching, Chowning said. The mentor guides the student, through one-on-one visits at the mentor's research lab, e-mails or phone calls.

"The goal is to keep the students interested beyond the Expo," she said. "And it's a way for scientists to get involved with education."

Students could enter one of 13 categories, including molecular modeling, multimedia and research, creative writing, journalism, music and art. Students wrote creative stories, which incorporated research into topics like sickle cell anemia or drug addiction, composed songs about penicillin and avian influenza or created artwork about stem-cell research or Alzheimer's disease.

"I wanted people to see both sides of the issue about stem-cell research," said Erin Dodge, a 10th-grader at Shorecrest High School in Shoreline, standing next to her painting depicting a sick man receiving a transfusion of stem cells.

Mercer Island High School students had a category all to themselves on histology, which looks at microscopic structures of animal tissues.

"We were kind of surprised at some of the things we saw," said Nick Booster, 18, who with Dane Robbins, 17, presented a project comparing tissue from the tongues of several species, including humans, snakes and frogs.

This is the first year the "Judges' Award of Excellence" cup was presented, going to Juanita High School.

"This is a unique [science fair] model," said Mary Glodowski, who teaches biology and biotechnology at Juanita High School. "There aren't many chances for students to show their work like this."

Rachel Tuinstra: 206-515-5637

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company





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