Orange County students take home top honors at annual science and engineering fair

Although the typical days of halls packed with students, spectators and judges are still on hiatus, that didn’t stop over 300 Orange County students from participating in the 2021 Orange County Science and Engineering Fair.

Held virtually for the second year in a row, the Orange County Science and Engineering Fair — or OCSEF — fosters scientific literacy and critical thinking skills for all students throughout Orange County. The event draws hundreds of middle and high school students each year who are eager to show off their investigative skills and compete for medals, special awards and scholarships.

Speaking of awards, more than 100 OC students walked away with special recognition for their innovative and inspiring submissions. And 81 of those students also progressed to the state science fair.

Six local students also qualified for Regeneron ISEF — which is considered the world’s largest pre-college science competition. Of the six students moving on to the international fair, three attend University High in the Irvine Unified School District.

Ben Astor

Eighth-grader Ben Astor was awarded the inaugural Broadcom Coding with Commitment award at the 2021 OC Science and Engineering Fair.

Winners included students who invented systems that monitor asthma activity by using a peak flow meter connected to a smartphone, studied the retention of high school students during an online lecture, and researched promoting plant growth on Mars.

To provide an extra level of recognition during a year that’s been far from traditional, OCSEF longtime partner Broadcom Foundation established a new award for 2021.

Ben Astor, eighth-grader at McPherson Magnet School in the Orange Unified School District, received the inaugural Broadcom Coding with Commitment award for his passion to solve problems in the community. Astor was recognized for his project that focused on Benford’s Law — a theory that certain number sets will follow a pattern.

A full list of winners can be viewed on the OCSEF website.