Community Schools of Frankfort Superintendent Joel McKinney enjoys referring to Bret Rhea’s high-ability students as a “STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Dynasty.” Karina Castaneda, a senior at Frankfort High School) is a prime example of that statement.
Karina placed in the Top 20 of her Behavioral Sciences category Friday at the International Science Fair, competing against students from all over the world (the winning project in her group was from Australia).
This will help put the accolades of her project this year into some content:
At the regional (a 12-county area surrounding Lafayette), level in March, she won the best Behavioral Sciences project award and placed in the Top 3 of all projects in the contest. This qualified her for the State competition.
At the State level in April, she had the second-best Behavioral Sciences project and placed in the Top 20 of all projects in the contest. This qualified her for the International competition as a representative of Indiana.
At the International level the week of May 17, she was recognized as a “Fourth Award” recipient, which placed her in the Top 20 of all the Behavioral Science projects in the International contest. She is also one of only six projects from Indiana to be recognized for excellence at the International level.
Karina’s projects for the past five years have centered on the bilingual brain. She started working on this year’s project back in September. The news of her placing in the international competition came as quite a surprise to her.
“I was super-excited, especially because we weren’t expecting it,” she said. “Being from a small town, small state of Indiana in the United States, it was totally unexpected. So, when I heard my name announced, it was very exciting.”
Karina plans to study Business Management at Purdue University in the fall. She is also hoping that she will be able to judge some of next year’s science fair projects when Purdue hosts the regional competition.
“She chased this dream for a long time, and now she’s made it a reality, thanks to the help and support of our Frankfort school community,” said Bret Rhea, director of High Ability at CSF. “What an accomplishment!”
“He has been my mentor through all of my science fair experiences ever since I started competing in fifth grade,” Karina said of Mr. Rhea’s influence. “He has been guiding me – not telling me what to do but asking me what I want to do and then running with all of my ideas.”