Pratt High School Senior Kevin Johnson will compete in the International Science and Engineering Fair after capturing a First Place in Earth Science/Geology at the Kansas State Science and Engineering Fair.

"To boldly go where no man has gone before." This familiar quote from the Star Trek series has become the mantra for Pratt High School senior Kevin Johnson.

Johnson and other high school and Liberty Middle School science students recently competed in the Kansas State Science and Engineering Fair at Cessna in Wichita.

Johnson placed first in his division in Earth Science/Geology, receiving a gold medal for his project on "Earthquakes Rock" that studied the force of an earthquake when its transmitted through various types of bedrock. Besides first in his division, Johnson placed second overall in the competition against 217 students from across the state. He also won a NASA Award and an Earth System Science Award, the U.S. Stockholm Water Prize and he earned a paid trip to the International Science and Engineering Fair in Philadelphia in May 13-18 sponsored by Intel.

"I'm the first person from Pratt to go to the International Fair," Johnson said. "I'm enjoying every minute of it."

Being invited to attend the International Fair means that his project puts him in the top 1,700 science projects in the world. This is a tremendous opportunity for Johnson who will be competing against some of the best students in the world but will also have the chance to meet some of the most important scientists in the world.

This is a huge stepping stone for Johnson. He will get to rub elbows with some top scientists and students. He will also make connections with several universities, said Lu Bitter, USD 382 science coordinator.

As for the famous Star Trek quote, Johnson has been influenced by science fiction in general. He wants to attend Kansas State University to study geology and astronomy with the ultimate goal of someday traveling to another planet and study the geology of an exoplanet.

"I want to know how they (planets) were made," Johnson said. "I want to get off earth and travel."

Johnson said earth is a living being and it effects everyone. But he wants to go further. He wants to go and study the makeup of another planet to see how it works.

Part of his passion about geology led him to choose his topic for the science fair. After the league and regional science fairs, Johnson said he knew he had a good presentation and was anxious to challenge other students at state.

Johnson admits that, at first, he didn't know what he wanted to do for a project but after checking out the SPACEBUDDIES site and their advanced projects, he found the geology project he liked with the bed rock types and earthquakes. His findings revealed that slate moving against granite produced the most force followed by shale against shale and granite against granite.

Unfortunately, the International Fair happens the same time as PHS graduation. While Johnson is disappointed that he won't get to be in the graduation ceremonies, he said this was just too good an opportunity to pass up.

"I just can't miss the International Fair. It wouldn't be right for me," Johnson said.

The Pratt science team had 12 projects at the state competition. The team took five golds, three silver and two bronze awards.

Pratt placings at the state science and engineering fair:

Division 1

Senior Kevin Johnson: First place in his division with a Gold Medal in earth science/geology for "Earthquakes Rock" NASA Earth System Science Award; U.S. Stockholm Water Prize; Second overall at the fair; Paid trip to International Science and Engineering Fair.

Sophomore Cheyenne Ibarra: Silver medal in plant science for "Plant Growth vs Colored Light."

Freshman Derrick Newby: Gold Medal in Robotics for "Can You See Me Now."

Freshman Erin Jackson: Bronze Medal in Behavior/Social Sciences for "Mint Percent."

Division 2

Sixth Grader Devon Newby: Bronze Medal in Environmental Engineering for "Oil vs Ferrofluid."

Sixth Grader Rileigh Qualls: Gold Medal in Physics for "Gone With the Wind."

Sixth Grader Jaelyn Bridges: Did not place, Behavioral Science for "They'll Be Coming Off Their Leashes."

Division 3

Fifth Grader Sarah Lamatsch: Gold Medal in Environmental Science for "Urban Runoff Pollutes the River" NOAA's 2018 special award Taking the Pulse of the Planet Award, Stockholm Jr. Water Prize Regional Award.

Fifth Grader Tyler Dorman and Matthew Garnett: Silver Medal in Physics and Astronomy for "Newton Force Impact on Artificial Turf vs Natural Turf at Different Heights" Special Award from Tanganyika "Summer Safari Camp."

Fifth Grader Wyatt Lovell: Silver Medal in Chemistry for "Voltaic Cell Battery."

Fourth Grader Ryan Haas: Gold Medal in Chemistry for "Effect of CO2 on melting ice" First in Division 3, a trophy and a $300 Scholarship.

Fifth Grader Jesse Kemper: Did not place, Physics for "Does the size of a wheel effect speed."

@GaleR_Tribune