5 - Peak Performance

As our project is finally winding down and coming to an end, we all must be at the top of our game for science fair. However, this project isn't the only thing we must be performing at. All of us have taken on many personal challenges on top of this project recently. This blog post focuses on all of our work that we've done over the course of this year both in and out of school. It shows all of us at our peak performance.

Science Fair

The Poster

To start our blog post, We would like to mention one of the most painful, and time-consuming aspects of our project. Figuring out how to effectively display a years worth of research on a poster that was only a few square feet in size was one of the biggest challenges yet. There was just so much information that we had to figure out how to fit onto poster board while still maintining certain requirements. After working on designing it for over 2 weeks we realized that the standard poster layout wouldn't effectively showcase all of out work. It was time for a complete redesign. We ended up condensing our methods, and only including a brief summary as opposed to a detailed explanation. Then we made our results section take up the entire middle of the board.

We found pictures for all but one of our samples and even made the colors of the poster match our mushrooms with the red and white colors.

We had to cut out a lot of the work that we had done to make it fit, but we were happy with our work. After all of our tears, and sleepless nights, we had a finished product.

Practice, Practice, Practice...

The next step was to prepare ourselves as much as we possibly could for our presentation. We practiced all the time to make sure we were ready to present, even under pressure. In fact, Camden and Jason even practiced while rock climbing. We thought, if we could keep our cool presenting while 30 feet in the air, we would definitely be able to present while under the pressure of the judges. The weekends were spent presenting to each other at home or at starbucks, wherever we were able to practice. For context, Jason had been practicing enough to the point where his first words of the day of science fair were 'DNA barcoding' and 'Russula.' By the time we were all done with this we were sure we were ready to present our project at science fair.

The Results

Although we did not move on in science fair, we did have a great time sharing what we have accomplished over the past year! Additionally we had the opportunity to be the loudest cheering section that science fair had ever heard when we had learned that our amazing teacher, Mrs. Petri, had won the teacher of the year award. Pictured is the Funguys with our at-school mom.

Outside The Classroom

Climbing - Camden

I have been rock climbing since I was about 11, and since then I have been constantly improving. About 6 months ago I got a job as a climbing wall instructor and that really kicked off my climbing career. Since then I started climbing every day so that I can be the best climber i can possibly be. This extra training really started to show and I began to climb much harder routes that I had ever been able to.

Shortly after this I began to do a style of climbing known as lead climbing. This is where the climber pulls the rope up with them as they go. It's a lot more technical and more dangerous, but it is probably the best style of climbing. I learned how to clip the rope at times with only one hand and one foot on the wall, carefully making my way to the top of each harder route.

After training for about 2 months I went competitive, climbing in the American Scholastic Climbing League. I kept improving, working my way up in climbing grades(the way different routes are rated based on difficulty). I competed in 3 regular season competitions this year, all while balancing my training with this project.

I made it to the regional competition too, and this was where I had my peak performance. During this competition I climbed some of the hardest routes that I have to date, all of them without falling. The highest grade route that I did was rated around a 5.11a. Basically, this is just the numerical way to say that it was really hard. A climbing route that required both physical strength and extreme mental focus. As the competition ended I placed 24th in this competition and climbed the hardest I ever had.

Now I'm still working on climbing and improving as much as I can. I recently sent a 5.11a route while lead climbing flawlessly and climbed another route rated as a 5.11b/c. These were the hardest climbs that I have ever completed and I'm only getting better. My next climbing project is now going to be a 5.12a rated route. Just for perspective, the hardest pitches that Alex Honald climbed during his dare devil climb of El Capitan during the movie Free Solo were rated at 5.13a.

Snowboarding - Jason

I have been snowboarding as long as I can remember, but transitioned into competitive snowboarding 5 years ago. At the same time that we were preparing for science fair, I have been preparing for national competitions in halfpipe and slopestyle. I would consider that the beginning of spring as peak performance, because of the dedication that my entire team is putting towards our project, as well as the effort that we put into our extracurricular activities simultaniously.

Progressing in snowboarding is difficult, especially balancing being a full time student, and a competetive athlete. Pictured above is me at Copper mountain in one of the hidden spots my snowboarding teammates and I have claimed as our own. This hidden spot allows us to progress safely by landing into soft snow.

In preperation for science fair, I have been practicing presenting while driving up to the mountains, as well as mumbling about the phylogenetic delimition of genus Russula while competing. I am sure that my teammates will be happy to know that soon we will be done presenting, and I will no longer be constantly talking about my project.


Music - Andrew

Since the age of 5, I have been obsessed with musicianship. Beginning with piano, i eventually transitioned into saxophone performance about 7 years ago. Since then, I have been honing my performance abilities in order to become one the top high school saxophonists in the county.

Throughout our project, I have been working on saxophone performance in addition to lab work. This includes being a founding member of Rock Canyon's Saxophone Quartet, the MacArthur Ranch Quartet. Additionally, I have been working tirelessly as the Bari saxophonist for this years musical, The Hunchback of Notre Dame. This has been an especially large time commitment, requiring me to rehearse at least twice a week for the past two months. In conjunction with this, I was selected to play first part alto in the 2020 Continental League Honor Band. Unfortunately, our first performance was canceled due to bad weather, but luckily, we rescheduled our performance for 3/09/2020! All of these groups serve as supplemental to my spot as second chair alto in the Rock Canyon Symphonic Band. which is the best band in Douglas County.

Now, juggling all of these performing groups is a little difficult when adding in such a complicated research project, but through hard work and determination, I, as well as my team have been able to tackle all of our extracurricular activities while doing research.

Andrew Hines (4th row, 2nd from left) and the Rock Canyon Pep Band.

In Conclusion?

This project has been a passion to our entire team. We have laughed, cried, and became stronger together throughout this experience, and are forever grateful. Not only did we become better researchers, we became better people. Not only did we become new friends, we became brothers. And as we conclude our final blog post, we would love to thank everyone that has helped us along the way. Without the support of our mentors, instructors, family, and friends, we wouldn't have gotten where we are today. So as Camden moves on to college, and Jason and Andrew embark on new laboratory experiences, it would be an understatement not to look back and be proud of how far we have come. The results at science fair wilt in comparison to the time we have had together. So, in conclusion, thank you for helping us along the way, and watching us onto the beginnings of our next journey.