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The student news source of Iowa City West High

West Side Story

The student news source of Iowa City West High

West Side Story

The student news source of Iowa City West High

West Side Story

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Zoe Smith 24
Zoe Smith
Editor-in-Chief

(she/her) Zoe Smith is a senior and entering her third and final year on staff. She is so excited to be this year's Web Editor-in-Chief. Although you can usually find her in the newsroom; you may also...

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Four West students compete at ISEF

West students competed at the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), held in Los Angeles, California, from May 11 to 17.
Four+West+researchers+represent+Iowa+at+the+International+Science+and+Engineering+Fair.+
Carolyn Walling
Four West researchers represent Iowa at the International Science and Engineering Fair.

While a multitude of regional and state science fairs draw millions of high school researchers around the world, only around 1,800 student researchers are chosen to compete at the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF). Among this select pool, finalists are narrowed down to a small percentage of competitors that are presented with grand awards at the conclusion of the competition. 

The 2024 ISEF was held from May 11-17 in Los Angeles, California, with four West students being selected to compete under the Iowa delegation. Among these students were Anjali Lodh ’25, Sabrina Du ’25, Shanza Sami ’26 and Winston Fan ’26, who qualified during the State Science and Technology Fair of Iowa (SSTFI). The four students traveled to LA alongside their designated research advisor, Chemistry teacher Carolyn Walling. 

Most finalists arrived in LA on Saturday, May 11, setting up their research booths, which consisted of a trifold and other supplementary project materials. The following day, finalists began networking with one another through the annual pin exchange, a tradition where finalists exchange cultural pins and make connections. Finalists participated in science panels, sightseeing activities and the opening ceremony during the subsequent two days. 

On Wednesday, finalists were questioned as contenders for special and grand awards valued at over $9 million. Judging was followed by an exclusive ISEF experience at Universal Studios Hollywood, where the entire park was reserved solely for ISEF finalists free of charge. 

On Thursday, ISEF displays were open to the general public for viewing. The day ended with the special awards ceremony, where 45 organizations presented awards to finalists fitting specific criteria, ranging from awards to trips to full college tuition scholarships. Two Iowa researchers received special awards. 

The grand awards ceremony marked the conclusion of ISEF for most finalists, with the top research projects in all 22 categories receiving recognition. This year, Sami placed fourth under the Earth and Environmental Sciences category, receiving $500 in scholarship money. 

“I was super proud of our team this year — They competed with the best of the best! Their hard work and dedication really paid off,” Walling said. “Special shoutout to Shanza for receiving an award at the grand award ceremony.”

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Shanza Sami
Shanza Sami, Reporter
(She/her) Shanza Sami is a sophomore at West High. This is currently her first year on staff as a reporter. Outside of the journalism room, you can find Shanza biking, perusing through a new book or adding songs to her Spotify playlist.
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