Students Win For Super Science Searches


Winners in the S3-Super Science Searches summer contest (Left to Right) Alexander Ivanov and Rajiv Nelakanti (First Place); Bev Lenihan, S3 project manager and Cupertino Library Foundation board member; Kiyati Sriram (Second Place); and Shiyalika Chayan (Third Place).

Plenty of middle school students spent big chunks of time this summer searching the Internet for entertainment and meeting new friends, but in the Cupertino area more than 200 students focused their searches on science using library online databases for the chance to win cash and prizes.

The Cupertino Library Foundation announced the winners of their second annual S3-Super Science Searches Summer Contest for Cupertino Union School District middle school students on Aug. 16, just before the launch of the new school year. First Place winners Alexander Ivanov and Rajiv Nelakanti, 8th graders at Cupertino Middle School, won iPad minis for their team entry. Niyati Sriram, an out-going 8th grader from Cupertino Middle School won $100 for her second place entry. Shivalika Chavan, an out-going 8th grader from Kennedy Middle School, was awarded $50 in third place. There were 206 registrants, and 63 official entrants.

“This second year was quite an uptick in registrations,” said Eno Schmidt, president of the Cupertino Library Foundation. “This annual community activity not only gave the students a focus for the summer, it also is helping prepare them for the Common Core Standards in 2014.”

The structure of the contest is designed to assist middle-school students in doing primary research and learning how to access the Santa Clara County Library District’s online databases. Critical thinking skills are enhanced, as well as their writing and presentation skills, and learning to work in a team.

This year’s contest parameters required the students to research and discuss three recent technological advances, and then to create their own technological advancement and describe its pros and cons. The students were required to do a written paper of up to five pages, a blog or journal, a record of their citings, a list of ten questions to be asked of a person wanting to put forth a technological advancement, and a presentation and/or video. The contest ran from June 15 to July 15.

“I was amazed at the creativity in many of the presentations,” said Bev Lenihan, S3 project manager and Cupertino Library Foundation Board member. “These students are using tools like EZBib, Prezzi, and blog formats brand new to them. They just dove in and learned them. I love their enthusiasm.”

The teen judges who volunteered for three days on Round 1:  Ardak, Shreya, Elizabeth and Cindy. Adult judges for Friday were Jerry Liu and Rares Vernica from Hewlett Packard.

The final judges were: Jason Lundgaard and Cory Williamson, from Apple; Mary Enright, newly named Coordinator of Instruction for Science and Mathematics for Cupertino Union School District; Rose Grymes, Senior Scientist at Nasa Ames and board member of the Cupertino Library Foundation; Steve Fitzgerald, manager, adult and teen librarian at Cupertino Library; and Eno Schmidt, president of the board of the Cupertino Library Foundation. Matt Lorenzo, former teen librarian assisted throughout the planning.

A celebration and awards ceremony to present the prizes was held August 16th in the evening in the Cupertino Library courtyard. Families, judges, members of the foundation board and members of the Cupertino Library Teen Advisory Board, as well as library staff were there to congratulate the students. More than 70 joined in the celebration.

“Our Cupertino students continue to amaze me,” said Orrin Mahoney, mayor of Cupertino and member of the Cupertino Library Foundation Advisory Council. “This S3 contest demonstrates how a good number of teens are willing to extend their own school year by digging deep into researching projects they may be working on in real life as adults.”

The Cupertino Library Foundation is a non-profit committed to extending life-long learning and self-improvement for all ages in the greater Cupertino community. A recent Return on Investment (ROI) study conducted by Berk and Associates confirms that for every dollar spent on library services, at least $5 is returned in benefit to the community. Since 2003, the Cupertino Library Foundation has raised over $600,000 for additional Library services and initiatives, including the new library and a renovated Teen Room.

For further information and photos go to: