Arizona Science and Engineering Fair

The winning team from Richard B. Wilson K-8 School include Logan Sampsel, left, Shaun Brennan, Ben Behrens, science teacher Laurie Burrell, Jonathan Pitts, Connor Wierman and Ryan Foley.

Kristen Behrens/Special to the Explorer

Despite stiff competition, and more than 600 competing projects, six students from Richard B. Wilson K-8 school in Oro Valley wowed the judges at the 2012 Arizona Science and Engineering Fair (AzSEF) to win first place among fifth and sixth graders in this statewide competition.  The fair was held in Phoenix last month.

Fifth graders Ben Behrens, Logan Sampsel, Connor Wierman, Shaun Brennan and Jonathan Pitts presented “Clean, Renewable and Sustainable Energy:  An Engineering Challenge to Mine Helium 3 on the Moon.”

In addition to their first place win in the Engineering category, they also won an International Science and Engineering Fair) special award for Most Outstanding Exhibit.  The boys described the basic theory of their project saying, “We believe Helium 3 will be the next major source of energy for Earth.  It’s clean, renewable and sustainable.  Scientists believe there is a significant amount of helium on the moon and our project explored how that energy source on the moon could be mined. We have some great ideas and we just know it can be done.”

Another Wilson fifth grader, Ryan Foley, submitted “Water Collection in the Desert,” and won first place among fifth and sixth graders in the Environmental Sciences category.

To participate in the statewide competition, these students had to place in the top 10 at their school, and then first place in the division at the Southern Arizona Regional Science and Engineering Fair, which was held at the Tucson Convention Center in March.

The students’ teachers Laurie Burrell, Devon Busby and Julie Selby are proud of the team.  According to Burrell, “We pushed back every way we could to challenge these boys to think through the potential obstacles posed before them.  They did an amazing job—they were usually three steps ahead of us and had already identified solutions.  I believe they are on to something.”

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