Students fare well at the Science and Engineering Fair of Houston


Courtesy of Faith Hindman

Sophomore Abigail Hindman presents her original contraption at the science fair.

Elizabeth Hu, Online Section Editor

From a square on a computer screen came the announcement: “From St. John’s School: Abigail Hindman, ‘What Are The Odds? Designing and Building a Machine to Flip Coins with a Predictable Outcome.’ Congratulations to all of our 2022 Grand Award Winners!” Sophomore Abigail Hindman jumped up and posed next to her name on the screen.

“I was hoping that I would get a Grand Award, but I was not expecting it,” Hindman said. “When they called my name for the twelfth Grand Award, I was just over the moon.”

Out of hundreds of applicants from all over Houston, only a handful of students received Place Awards, Special Awards and Grand Awards, with a junior and senior division for each section. The Place Awards determined first, second and third place winners. In Special Awards, companies recognized specific projects that reflected the organizations’ goals. The Grand Awards had three categories: Life, Physical and Engineering, with four winners per category in the senior division and one winner per category in the junior division. 

The senior division winners of the Grand Awards will move on to the International Science and Engineering Fair. Hindman will be bringing one of those twelve projects from the Houston area going to Atlanta, Georgia from May 7 to May 13 with her machine—a device that can flip a coin that will consistently land on the same side. 

Hindman’s contraption consistently flips a coin on the same side.

The Science and Engineering Fair of Houston judging took place on Feb. 26, although projects were due on Jan. 28. Students displayed their projects and posters in rows and presented to judges who walked up and down the lanes. Six students from St. John’s entered: Hindman, senior Russell Li, sophomore Shreyes Balachandran, senior Maggie Miller, senior Ellie Eikenburg and junior Chloe Schueppert. 

Hindman received first place in the senior division of Engineering Mechanics, three Special Awards and the Grand Award for the Engineering Senior Division.

“This was my free time. This was something I really wanted to do,” Hindman said. “This was my fun, and I just put all the time I could towards it because I wanted it to work.”

Schueppert, with senior Leah Beach, built a device that can detect trace amounts of oil in oceans, an idea that stems from her love of the environment.

“I spent a long time researching and finally found something that I was happy with,” Schueppert said. “I spent so much time on it because I was able to take one passion and another passion and put them together.”

Schueppert received three Place awards as well as an opportunity to present her machine to the Coast Guard, the Texas General Land office and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

It was a really great opportunity, just to make those connections and get a lot of great suggestions,” Schueppert said. “I really got a sense of how engineering can manifest in a project, whether it’s electrical engineering or mechanical, and just a wide variety of ideas.”