Two Bethel Regional High School students took top honors in the state science and engineering fair. Calvin Samson won first place in the “Animal Science” category, and Nicholai Chase took home the “In Vitro Biology” award. The contest took place in Anchorage last month. KYUK sat down with the students to talk about their accomplishments and future plans.
Calvin Samson, in his project, looked at how humans affect tree swallow populations. He concluded that areas with more housing developments resulted in smaller birds.
Nicholai Chase also studied the effect that different habitats have on animals. He noticed that there were more Dolly Varden trout in certain areas of the river, and he wondered why. His experiment determined that the fish survive better upriver where there are milder currents, more food, and better protection from predators.
“Our fish is a pretty important resource to us, all humans and people, and we’re trying to make it last for generations and generations,” explained Chase.
As amazing as these young scientists are, they didn’t get there all by themselves. They credit people who encouraged their interest in science: their parents, siblings, uncles, community members, and one other special mentor. Samson explained how their teacher uses his signature catchphrase to inspire them.
“Mr. Lindley kept pushing us forward and motivating us by saying we were doing a great job and saying ‘boom’ after we got a good part,” said Samson.
Competing with students from across Alaska, Samson realized that he has more studying to do. He plans to go to college to study engineering. He doesn’t know what kind of engineering yet, but he does know that he wants to solve problems close to home, including one of Bethel’s most vexing.
“I might work where my dad was, fixing Bethel to be a better place because, you know, how the potholes is the main problems in the roads,” said Samson.
If Samson solves that problem, there will be plenty of Bethel drivers and pedestrians lining up to thank him.