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Portola Pilot

The student news site of Portola High School

Portola Pilot

The student news site of Portola High School

Portola Pilot

Portola High Students Win High Honors at 2024 IUSD Science Fair

Junior+Yash+Malani+accepts+the+first-place+award+at+the+IUSD+Science+and+Engineering+Fair.+%E2%80%9CIt+feels+like+we+accomplished+a+lot%2C%E2%80%9D+Malani+said.+%E2%80%9CIt+got+me+looking+into+the+possibility+of+robotics+and+the+hardware+part+of+computers.%E2%80%9D
Courtesy of Clare Malani
Junior Yash Malani accepts the first-place award at the IUSD Science and Engineering Fair. “It feels like we accomplished a lot,” Malani said. “It got me looking into the possibility of robotics and the hardware part of computers.”

*Correction: Feb. 15, 2024

Multiple Portola High students placed first at the IUSD Science Fair. All Portola High students who placed first are seniors Haaris Alam and Elise Ngo, juniors Ashley Cao, Ronit Mathur, Yash Malani and Nirmit Shah and sophomores Aryush Aravind and Andrew Zhang. 

The Portola Pilot 

 

Irvine Unified School District (IUSD) held its annual Science and Engineering Fair at University Lab Partners in UC Irvine on Jan. 24. Of the 30 projects submitted to the fair by Portola High students, 25 received an honorable mention, second place or first, according to science teacher and Portola High science fair coordinator Annmarie Ngo.

First place projects included CANEvision, a computer-assisted navigation cane designed to help the visually impaired and built by juniors Yash Malani and Nirmit Shah.

“We wanted to present our work in a professional environment where we could possibly move further [and] advance our work,” Shah said. “[The science fair] allowed us to really gain hands-on experience and have an opportunity to display our ideas outside of school.”

Over four months, they coded the CANEvision design using Python and applied AI to create digitized surroundings, according to Malani. The team created a digital sidewalk to simulate real-world surfaces and trained the cane to walk on the sidewalk with the help of AI, according to Shah. They gradually increased the distance the cane traveled, trained it to avoid obstacles and optimized efficient routes, according to Malani.

“We put a lot of effort into it, so it feels like we were in the right place,” Malani said. “I found it fun to do, and it’s something you just do in your free time, so I think it was a very positive experience.”

First place projects also included research into the relationship between mass ratio and orbital perturbations by sophomore Aryush Aravind, the implementation of a neural network to detect eye diseases by junior Ronit Mathur and research on how rhizobium tropici-produced EPA affects growth of bermuda grass by seniors Haaris Alam and Elise Ngo. 

Annmarie Ngo said that the projects were judged based on various factors, ranging from quantifiability to organized data presentation. With the amount of hard work students dedicate to their projects, there are rewarding outcomes, according to Annmarie Ngo. 

“[The evaluators] write out a list of areas of strength and areas of improvement for each project, which is really cool that they give so much feedback,” Annmarie Ngo said. 

First and second place winners have the opportunity to move on to the Orange County Science and Engineering Fair on March 6, according to Annmarie Ngo. 

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About the Contributors
Mary Lee, Staff Writer
Mary Lee is a staff writer for her first year on the Portola Pilot. Unless she is refreshing her Google Classroom page to check for any announcements or assignment updates from her teachers, you can find her listening to flutist Sir James Galway and gawking at his impeccable tone and musicality. She hopes to learn about diverse perspectives on and off campus, one pomodoro at a time. Widening her writing experience is a life goal, and she is confident the Portola Pilot will bring her one step closer to reaching it.
Aditi Salunkhe, Assistant Sports Editor
Aditi Salunkhe is the Assistant Sports Editor for her second year on the Portola Pilot. When she’s not stressing about final draft deadlines, you can find her watching true crime documentaries or going on long runs with her cross country teammates. In her freetime, she often reads mystery books in bed with her favorite snacks.
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