FRESNO, California (KSEE) – Students are already preparing their projects for next year’s Fresno County Science Fair – and they are getting a lot of inspiration from one of last year’s winners: 12-year-old Pauline Estrada.
Estrada’s project not only landed her a prize at the National Science Fair, but it is also helping Central Valley farmers tackle the ongoing lack of water.
“Seeing the impact that drought had on our agriculture here in Fresno really inspired me to create a project in order to help these farmers measure water use more efficiently and maximize their yield and detect drought stress,” said Estrada.
Estrada is now an 8th-grade student at Granite Ridge Intermediate in Clovis Unified. Her 7th-grade science project was known as the Infra-Rover.
“It can take pictures of the plants, infrared pictures that allows it to see the canopy temperature and that is a direct indicator of the plants’ drought stress or it’s health so you can kind of see if you need to irrigate or not allowing you to save water.”
Although Pauline’s mother is a scientist and the 12-year-old worked under the guidance of Fresno County Science Fair Director Jennifer Weibert, Weibert says Pauline came up with and designed this project on her own.
Pauline built her first rover at STEM camp in the 4th grade. By 6th grade, she had perfected it enough to make it to a national science competition.
“Going there last year where I did not win I really got the determination and the motivation to do even better and work harder.”
Estrada continued to work on her science project in 7th grade, building and mounting her own infrared camera and figuring out how to download the images her Infra-Rover created. That helped her take second place in the technology portion of the Broadcom Masters, a national science competition for middle and high school students that was held in October.
“It made me really happy and glad to have done this project when I heard all the responses from farmers because it really showed me that this project was worth something that it was useful to them and that it could really help them.”