8th Grade Student Wins First Place at California Science and Engineering Fair

Karen G. '23 let her curiosity guide her as she prepared for this year's state and county science fairs. She started researching potential topics last year before choosing to examine whether the most expensive sea salts are the best quality.
Her study of microplastics in sea salts ultimately earned first place in the Los Angeles County Science and Engineering Fair and California Science and Engineering Fair

Karen, who is the first Archer student to win first place at the state level, said she discovered her strengths in 6th grade science when she participated in Lil SIS, Archer’s Middle School Science and Inquiry Symposium. The student-led projects allow the School's youngest scientists to learn about and practice the scientific method in their own experiments.

"I used that knowledge to build on my experience,” Karen said. “Of course I have had unsuccessful projects at Archer, but I wanted to take what I learned and use it to hopefully make a better project and a better process.”

This year, she chose to take Ms. Surin’s Science Fair X-Block, part of Archer’s exploratory classes that encourage students to find and pursue their passions in different topics.

Karen hypothesized that the highest priced sea salts would have the smallest amount of microplastics, which form from pollution in the ocean.
However, she found through her experimentation that cost doesn’t always inform quality. Himalayan salt, for example, had the third highest amount of microplastics despite being the most expensive salt that Karen tested. She concluded that Northgate Sea Salt had the most microplastics while 365 Sea Salt, the cheapest of the brands she examined, came in second.

Now that she's finding success in science, Karen now sees a future for herself in the STEM fields.

For Archer sisters looking to follow in her footsteps, she has some advice: "You should keep on going," she said. "It's ok to be wrong and it's ok to sometimes mess up and make mistakes because you can do things again differently and it will turn out really good."