Nautilus News Spring 2021

We have a lot of exciting news to share with you in the Spring 2021 newsletter! Here are the headlines:

An exceptional performance at the GNOSEF Science & Engineering Fair.

Students competed in our school-wide science fair held in February juried by local university faculty and students. The selected entries progressed to the Greater New Orleans Science and Engineering Fair (GNOSEF) competition in February 2021.

Students who participate in science competitions get valuable practice in communicating their work. Because the students drive independent research, they can feel isolated in their work or like their time and effort go unnoticed. By talking to other students and adults about their research, they gain confidence. Students inspire each other and can be motivated to continue their research or explore new research areas. Having a positive, caring, and open environment can be an essential first step towards a STEM career.

The results are IN!! The First and Second place projects are advancing to the Louisiana State Science and Engineering Fair.

Louisiana State Science and Engineering Fair Winners

First Place, Biochemistry: Delia Pirtle for “Which Sunscreen and SPF has the biggest effect on Freshwater Hydra? “

Second Place, Energy: Sustainable Materials And Design: Otis Taylor & Chelsy Gonzalez for “Bringing Insulation to the 21st Century”

Third Place, Translational Medical Science: Bryson White for  “Is blinking frequency affected by screen exposure?”

Fourth Place, Computational Biology: Staicy Triminio-Ferrera for “Twins birth in the United States”

Greater New Orleans Science & Engineering Fair Winners

Derrick O: 1st place Animal Science

Delia P: 1st place Biochemistry, Cellular and Molecular Biology

Otis T. & Chelsy G.: 1st place Energy: Sustainable Materials and Design

Staicy T-F: 2nd place Computational Biology, Bioinformatics, and Biomedical Engineering

Bryson W: 2nd place Biomedical, Health & Translational Medical Science

Eviyan B:  3rd place Computational Biology, Bioinformatics, and Biomedical Engineering

Kawaynea W: 4th place Behavioral and Social Sciences

Cullun M: 4th place Engineering Mechanics

Amaya J: 4th place  Biomedical, Health & Translational Medical Science

Selina L: 4th place Animal Sciences

Samaria S: 4th place  Computational Biology, Bioinformatics, and Biomedical Engineering

—–Special Awards——


Projects that best incorporate math, science, and engineering studies and, when possible, recognize projects that offer Air Force applicability will earn this award.

OTIS TAYLOR AND CHELSY GONZALEZ M.S. Benbow & Associates (Local)

First prize-$100 for outstanding Senior Division investigative projects in the field of Electrical Engineering.

SAMARIA SMOTHERS: Tulane Science Scholars Program

The Tulane Science Scholars Program (TSSP), with financial support from the Bruce J. Heim Foundation, will give both a certificate and a full scholarship worth $1700 for a summer course to a 10th or 11th-grade student with an outstanding project in an area of science or engineering.  The TSSP is a selective program for rising juniors or seniors with exceptional talent in the sciences, engineering, and mathematics. The student will have to submit all necessary documents before the April 17th deadline, including application, essay, letter of recommendation, and school transcript.  The winner will choose their preference from a list of several courses and receive three hours of college credit upon completing the course.  The winner may also live on campus during their study for a fee. More information about the TSSP is on the website:

SAMARIA SMOTHERS-U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) (National)

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is pleased to offer two (2) Science Champion Awards to recognize an exceptional individual student or team project with the potential to impact international development challenges. This prestigious award goes to the most outstanding projects that demonstrate STEM applications to global development challenges.  

CHELSY GONZALEZ: Entergy Corporation ”Powering the Future” Scholarship Award

A $1,000 scholarship will go to a female high school senior with an outstanding project. To receive the award, the winner must present their acceptance letter to a college or university.

DELIA PIRTLE: The “Aspiring Researcher” Scholarship presented by the Emmy Noether Awards

A $2,500 undergraduate scholarship will be awarded to a high school female demonstrating passion and promise in their scientific research. The student will receive her scholarship upon college or university acceptance. Scholarship funds are provided by the Joe W. and Dorothy Dorsett Brown Foundation. For more information about the Emmy Noether Awards, please visit our website:

Sci High’s new home and the start of a new chapter.


Imagine a school that accepts students from all walks of life, regardless of past academic performance – the students who have been failed by the system countless times before – and exposes them to top-notch teachers, rigorous coursework, and a learning environment like no other. A school that challenges every student to think deeply and strategically and primes every student to succeed instead of simply surviving. Imagine a school where every student learns to believe that they are the future of their home city.

We imagined what appeared to be impossible,  now that dream is a reality!

In November 2018, Sci High’s leadership launched a $1 million capital campaign effort to equip and furnish a much-needed new educational facility with necessary STEM-based enhancements. The private fundraising effort supplemented a $32 million investment from New Orleans Public Schools to construct a new campus for Sci High in New Orleans’ vibrant, flourishing BioDistrict. 

Because of our Capital Campaign donors, Sci High raised $1,155,885 – dollars that will enrich the student experience, facilitate STEM-based learning, and support cutting-edge educational initiatives! 

These investments made have enabled the addition of STEM learning-supportive classrooms and labs to Sci High’s  new school facility, including a Fabrication Lab, an Engineering Lab, a Digital Graphics Lab, a Biomedical Lab, three Science Labs, and two dedicated Science classrooms. The new Sci High is equipped to create the workforce of tomorrow – providing pathways to opportunity for its graduates and preparing them to play a leading role in New Orleans’ future.

We are delighted to report after eleven months of virtual learning, Sci High faculty and staff welcomed students onto campus! Sci High has adopted a hybrid model for the remainder of the school year to ensure student safety in accordance with CDC guidelines. 

We invite you to take a virtual tour of the new building. Experience the hallways and corridors filled with innovative STEM education! 

Sci High Bienville Campus – 1st Floor

Sci High Bienville Campus – 2nd Floor

Sci High Bienville Campus – 3rd Floor

Please see a complete list of our Capital Campaign donors who supported this effort.

Sci High Alumnus navigating college through a pandemic.

We caught up with recent Sci High graduate and University of New Orleans first-year college student, Jon LaBranch, and learned more about how he is navigating through his college experience due to the pandemic. It has been a difficult year for everyone, so it’s quite inspiring to learn more about Jon’s perspective on how he has coped with the new normal and distance learning. 

Q. What’s your perspective on how you’ve coped with covid and distance learning?

A. Well, that seems to be a pretty loaded question these days. I have been pretty good overall. It’s been kind of hard to find my place in the realm of college with what’s going on. It’s always been a dream of mine to be successful with whatever I take on, but going to college during a pandemic is definitely hard to manage, especially balancing that with work and my own personal/social life. COVID made such a difference in my life because I am an extrovert, and I love to interact. It’s just harder to do that over a computer screen. Personally, one of the things that have kept me together has been keeping my social life active because these times are very hard, and having someone to talk to or confide in definitely helps.

Q. What did Sci high equip you with that allowed you to continue being successful? 

A. As far as my beloved Alma Mater Sci High, I appreciate what they did for me while being a student there and even after graduating. Like most of the students there, I Ioved the environment that Sci High provided. If it wasn’t one thing that encouraged me, it was definitely going to be our teachers. I am grateful that we had teachers who taught us to encourage ourselves. Even if it was allowing us to figure it out ourselves, the most pleasant feeling was knowing that I did it because I motivated myself. I’m not sure if I could say the same thing being at another high school, given that my school is one of a kind. So when the question of what tools my school gave me comes up, I could never just give one answer. 

One teacher who really helped me break through a lot of barriers was Mr. Richards. Even though the process of helping me was frustrating, it made me such a better person once I figured out how to manage. Honorable mention goes to Mrs. Gordon, Mr. Oatis, Mrs. Little, Ms. Wheeler, and Dr. Cola. Just to elaborate on Mr. Oatis, I was initially his student in his Journey to Careers class but then became his student under Drumline and in life lessons, especially regarding life skills and advice!

Q. Have your future plans changed in any way since starting your college journey?

A. When first arriving at college, I decided to major in what I’ve always wanted to be, an actor, and the major was film. While in college, I have kept in contact with my high school and have even talked to Dr. Cola about wanting to someday return as a staff member at Sci High. To do so, I’ve decided to begin switching my major to Public Relations and wanting to study either Crisis Management, Corporate and Social responsibility, or Community Relations.

Make plans today to Support Sci High on May 4th.

Globally, the future of work itself continues to evolve at a rapid pace. Science, technology, engineering, and math fields, in particular, show the most growth. That’s growth that is forecast to continue in our region. New Orleanians in STEM careers can enjoy the benefits of higher-than-average salaries—money that has the potential to double the household income for families. Imagine how much greater our city could be if our schools could propel more and more residents into the middle class through fulfilling work. Imagine how much more successful our academic, business, and healthcare communities could be if they count on a trained, educated, passionate workforce to drive success.

This is why your continued support of Sci High programming is critical. In the looming times of uncertainty, our community’s support ensures STEM education continues to prepare the next generation of STEM leaders. Please save the date and plan your giving starting April 20th using this LINK.