Sara Volz and Emma Frantz Discuss Science Fair Research Projects

Publish Date: 
Tue, 10/16/2012

How many high school students do you know who grow algae under their bed, on purpose? Or wear DNA-shaped earrings? Or spend their weekends refining their science research project?

Colorado Springs high school senior Sara Volz has flasks of algae thriving under her bed as we speak. One of the Pikes Peak region’s up-and-coming young scientists, Sara is currently working in the field of alternative fuels.

“I first began my work on alternative fuels in 7th grade,” says Volz (pictured at left), “when I heard about my neighbors making biodiesel. In 9th grade, my interest narrowed to algae biofuels—a green, sustainable fuel made from oils derived from microscopic algae.”

And there’s Emma Frantz, a high school sophomore in Colorado Springs, who pondered this question: If cosmic rays cause cloud formation, but solar flares deflect cosmic rays, does the sun actually influence our weather in this way?

“I have always had an interest in how things work,” says Frantz, “and how things are put together. When I was little, I always liked to experiment and play with Legos and puzzles.”

Volz echoes the sentiment. “As far back as early grade school, I was fascinated by how things worked and always loved science museums, camps, and books. I devoured scientific knowledge and liked knowing the why’s of the world.”

Volz and Frantz presented, along with a team of middle school science fair winners, the October Science on Tap event Monday evening, October 15, at downtown eatery Jack Quinn’s Irish Pub.

Volz discussed her award-winning project, “Optimizing Algae Biofuels: Artificial Selection and Nitrogen Stress as Methods to Induce Lipid Synthesis.” For Frantz, it was “The Sun’s Effect on Cloud Formation and the Earth’s Climate.”

From the presenters’ knowledgeable responses to scientific questions from the audience about the project results, you’d never know these two scientists are teenagers. Volz was awarded runner-up by the Colorado Springs Science Center Project (CSSCP) at the 2012 Pikes Peak Regional Science Fair. Volz also won first place in Biological Science, and Grand Award at the fair, first place and Grand Award at the Colorado Science & Engineering Fair, and first place at the International Science & Engineering Fair. Frantz won third place in Earth & Space Sciences at the Pikes Peak Regional Science Fair.

Both girls are, to say the least, seriously interested in science and mathematics. Sara plans to study biochemistry in college and says she hopes to go on to an academic career in research and possibly a professorship.

Emma (pictured at right) knows she wants to pursue a math- or science-related field. “I am pretty sure I will be an engineer of some sort,” she says, “though more recently I have taken an interest in computer programming.”

Both girls believe science helps us all gain a better understanding of the world around us. Volz says, “Science is crucial to every aspect of our lives! It defines our interactions with everything—physically, chemically, biologically… The study of science has not only improved our practical, everyday lives with technology, medicine, etc., but our intellectual lives. Science is humanity’s great quest for answers to the questions we wonder about every day.”

Volz and Frantz hope those in attendance at the October Science on Tap left the presentations having learned something interesting, and with the knowledge that encouraging and fostering scientific interest in young people really does make a difference.

Sara Volz and Emma Frantz - two names to watch in the years to come.

Learn about the Colorado Springs Science Center Project.

For a schedule of upcoming Science on Tap presenters, visit the BSCS Calendar.

Learn about Science on Tap.

Learn about the Pikes Peak Regional Science Fair.

BSCS is a proud supporter of the Pikes Peak Regional Science Fair.