YHS takes top honors

March 25, 2014 

Yosemite High School's International Baccalaureate Psychology (IB) science and research team took first, second and fourth place in this year's Central California Regional Science Mathematics and Engineering Fair in the Behavioral Sciences division.

First Place went to Kenny Jeffries, who studied whether there would be any difference in learning and comprehension if students were face-to-face for the psychology lesson or if the same lesson was transmitted via Skype through distance learning to a class of psychology students at Chowchilla High School. Both classrooms received the psychology lesson at the same time.

Jeffries then administered a standardized test to both sets of students and found there were no differences in learning modalities. Both sets of students did equally, as well. His hypothesis, based on current research in the field, stated he would not find a difference and that in fact distance learning was just as effective as face-to-face learning. Jeffries was also awarded the Fresno State Psychology Department Award for research.

Second place went to Angie Du, who studied whether there is a difference in learning among students who attend a traditional high school (paper and pencil with integrated technology in some subjects) or a digital high school, which uses technology solely as a means of subject delivery.

She administered a standardized ACT English comprehension test to both groups of students. The traditional high school took the test with paper and pencil, as it is currently administered by the College Board, and the digital high school took the test online.

Du found a very significant difference between the two schools. The traditional high school students had a mean score of 62.2% on the test while the digital school had a mean score of 40.2%. Both classes were first supported by current research, said she would find a difference and traditional learning would fare better. Her hypothesis was supported by this data. The high schools that were tested were Yosemite High School as the traditional school and Minarets as the digital school.

Fourth place went to Craig Stieler, who studied whether there would be a difference in the ability to recognize congruent and incongruent colors with differing odors, such as yellow and lemon, pink and strawberry. He found, as the current research supports, that smell and color are cemented within our brain as we learn these at a young age. Try as we might, we cannot change this when confronted by in-congruency. When you see a yellow sponge and anticipate what smell it might have, such as lemon, when given the same yellow sponge with a strawberry odor, you will still say lemon; his hypothesis was supported.

All three students will advance to the California State Fair at the end of April to compete among all the winners statewide from their respective fairs. Yosemite High School students have, in the past three years, brought home medals in the Behavioral Sciences division as being some of the most outstanding in the state. In 2013, Robin Meister brought home third. In 2012, Garrett Baltz placed fourth and in 2011, John DiTomoso placed third in California state. "All the students that compete should be commended for their hard work," Deborah Brown, coach of Yosemite High's science research team and IB psychology instructor said.

Other members of the team included, Julia Walsh, Sharon Warmerdam, Azani Pusina, and Alex Mello. In addition, many students await the news on their acceptance to present their research projects at the Stanford Undergraduate Psychology Conference in May.

In a final note, Brown was recognized as the senior division, Science Coach of the year.

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