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Students win top awards at L.A. County Science Fair

April 04, 2012|By Bill Kisliuk, bill.kisliuk@latimes.com
  • St. Francis High School junior Christopher Sercel, 17, talks about his findings on how heat affects mealworm activity at the Los Angeles County Science Fair held at the Pasadena Convention Center. More than 1,000 middle- and high school students participated in this event.
St. Francis High School junior Christopher Sercel, 17,… (Raul Roa / Staff…)

Several budding scientists from La Cañada Flintridge and La Crescenta stood out from the crowd of 1,100 participants in the Los Angeles County Science Fair last weekend at the Pasadena Convention Center.

Christopher Sercel, a St. Francis High School junior, earned the competition's Earthwatch Award in ecology for his project, “A Toasty Worm is a Happy Worm: A Study of the Effect of Temperature On the Metabolic Rate of Mealworms.”

Sercel earned the right to participate in an international expedition with working environmental scientists studying topics such as sea turtles, endangered zebras or migrating gray whales.

Sercel may recognize the names of some of the other winners from the area.

His cousin, Zack Sercel, a seventh-grader who is home schooled under the auspices of St. Bede the Venerable Elementary School, took first place in chemistry; Flintridge Preparatory School seventh-grader Jonathan Vahala got a first in product science for his study of sunscreen effectiveness; Crescenta Valley High School junior Richard Cho won for his math project, “Quadratic Residues”; and Easun Arunachalam, also a Crescenta Valley High junior, won for his plant physiology experiment.

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FOR THE RECORD: An earlier version of this story misstated the relationship between Christopher and Zack Sercel and misstated Zack Sercel's school affiliation.

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Russell Sobota of St. Francis High School earned a second-place award in engineering research for his project, “Power Output of Hydrogen and Gasoline Fueled Internal Combustion Engines.”

Flintridge Prep seventh-grader Laura Ratliff took third place in engineering research for her study of dust buildup on solar panels.

Gabriella Lopez, an eighth-grader at St. Bede, took third place in microbiology for her study of a household food phenomenon familiar to many. Her health project was called, “The Five–Second Rule: Safe or Sorry?”

Delfin Acosta, a senior at St. Francis High, took third place in physics for “The Effects of Gases on Solar Water Heaters.”

Honorable mention awards went to Manesseh Matossian and Nina Kasputis from St. Bede; Eric Suarez, Mohamed Ibrahim, Sami Daher and Richard Herrera from St. Francis, and Jeffrey Wang and Shaneli Jain from Flintridge Prep.

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