“Showcase their STEM talent”: Amador students compete in Alameda County Science & Engineering Fair


Alameda County Science and Engineering Fair (ACSEF) hosts their annual science fair open to middle and high schoolers for the 15th year (Photo provided by ACSEF.)

Spanning across three days, the Alameda County Science and Engineering Fair (ACSEF) was hosted on 3/24-3/26 at the Ohlone College Newark for all high school and middle school students in the county. 

It’s an opportunity for students to compete with their science and engineering projects in an effort to move up towards international levels for high schoolers.

“I wanted to direct the fair to ensure ACSEF would be available to allow students of Alameda County a place to showcase their STEM talent, be able to challenge themselves at the Fair, if possible the California State and Engineering Fair (CSEF) and International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF),” said Balita Shepperson, ACSEF Director.

All grade 6-12 students in Alameda county from homeschool, charter, public, private and parochial schools were all allowed to participate. And many Amador Valley High School students jumped at the opportunity to participate.

“For my project, which I chose based on my interests, I used bioinformatics tools to research how spaceflight affects gene expression and its implications. When presenting to the judges, I received a lot of valuable feedback. Some of them also worked in the biotech industry and so talked about similar work they did, which was really nice to hear and learn from,” said Lekha Anand, Amador Valley HS competitor who won the high school 4th place awards

Competitors brought their displays to set up on the first day of the event, where they later went through two rounds of judging the day after.

“My project was about myco-phytoremediation, which is phytoremediation and Environmental Engineering. I got the idea from our AP environmental science lab and field studies, and a film that we watched called Fantastic fungi. It was really nice to attend the fair and to find other people who are passionate about solutions to combat issues in the environment,” said Ishan Joshi, Amador Valley HS competitor who won the high school 1st place awards.

Hosting the 12th Alameda county science and engineering fair, Patti Carothers, who founded the science fair after leading several of her students to ISEF as a teacher at Monte Vista high school.

“Every bit of hard work has paid off for several thousand Alameda County kids to experience hands-on minds-on authentic research. It is thrilling to see their eyes light up with the passion for what they have learned and the screams of joy at the award ceremony!” said Carothers.


Not only have many students from Amador Valley HS competed this year for a spot at the international science and engineering fair, Amador Valley students from previous years have also returned to the fair to give back to the STEM community.

This year, I was an organizer for the fair, serving as the president of the Student Leadership Board, which I founded during my sophomore year. We helped with check-ins, project setup, judging day, giving out science kits, etc. It was great to give back to this amazing event that has given me so much over the years,” said Tony Wang, President of the Student Leadership Board and ‘22 ISEF Qualifier.

The Alameda county science and engineering fair is an effort put together by the ACSEF organizing board, judges, sponsors, directors, and volunteers to truly highlight all the talented STEM contestants in Alameda county.

“Directing the fair is like putting together a puzzle. All of the pieces have to come together just right for a successful event. It is rewarding to work with a great group of people who have a common goal. The organizing of location and awards can get a bit hectic, but we get it all to work out in the end,” said Shepperson.