Twenty Grant Union high school students shared the hypotheses and conclusions of their research during the school’s March 14 science fair.

Grant Union teachers Sonna Smith and Randy Hennen’s students took part in the competition.

Smith said her chemistry students were required to take part in the fair. Smith, who has taught at the school since 2002, also teaches physics and health.

She said the students who met their benchmarks since September had the most in-depth projects.

“Some of the ideas they came up with were beyond our ability to test,” she said. “The hardest part is picking a project.”

The two gold winners were junior Samantha Floyd and senior Kade Blood.

Floyd won best of fair with her project titled “Perceived Recognition Memory vs. Actual Recognition Memory.”

She said she had some surprises along the way in the project that she developed to help her 12 piano students and one ukulele student learn and retain knowledge of music theory.

A helpful part of her conclusion was that with more knowledge comes less variation between perceived and actual results. She also discovered that “images of items did not trigger memories as was thought.”

Blood’s question was “How Does Armarilla Fungi Impact Forest Vegetation Growth and Composition?”

He said the project gave him a better understanding of statistical analysis, and he found “the fungi impedes the growth of coniferous trees and basal area per hectare.”

“I thought it was pretty interesting that we live adjacent to one of the largest living organisms in the world,” he said of the Armarilla Fungi which is located in the Blue Mountains.

Silver winners were Ellie Justice and Cody Combs, and bronze winners were Drew Lusco and Jacob Smith.

Judges for the event were Amy Stiner of the South Fork Watershed Council; Dr. Anthony Tolvar, an Eastern Oregon University physics professor; Brent Smith, assistant John Day District fish biologist with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife; and Neil Bauer, a retired Grant School District 3 science teacher.

Hennen, who has taught at Grant Union since 1998, said he noticed more students interacting and sharing their projects this year.

“The key to a good project is having a good question,” he said.

Angel Carpenter is a reporter for the Blue Mountain Eagle. She can be contacted at or 541-575-0710.



Angel Carpenter is a reporter for the Blue Mountain Eagle. She can be contacted at or 541-575-0710.

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