Three students combine talents to earn county and statewide recognition.
Like musketeers or stooges, great things come in threes.
Lakewood Ranch High School students Alyssa Moreford, Kaitlin Bohan and Rhiannon Jacobsen are proving they are no exception.
“We work well together,” Bohan said.
Moreford, a sophomore, is a perfectionist whose vocabulary often stumps her friends, while Bohan, a sophomore, isn’t the strongest speller, but is the face of their projects, she the one who goes out into the community to make connections.
“There’s this thing called spell check, Kaitlin,” Jacobsen said, laughing and nudging Bohan. “Use it sometime.”
Jacobsen, a junior, is the oldest member of the trio and the “powerhouse” of the group. She ensures deadlines are met and keeps her team from getting too distracted during study sessions.
The best friends are becoming a powerhouse together, as they partner on projects for county and statewide events, such as the state TSA Conference held last weekend.
They placed in seventh in architectural renovation and second in biotechnology design.
For architectural design, they built a bridge made of a few pieces of balsa wood to determine how much weight it could hold. In biotechnology design, they made changes in a space suits.
“We researched and found that astronauts coming home often have trouble with muscle and bone deterioration,” Bohan said. “So we added exercise bands inside the space suit, which attach to hips, ankles, shoulders and wrists. As they bend, the bands work the muscles and help them stay strong.”
In the structural design category, they constructed a model home to meet the needs of a handicapped homeowner.
“Because this made-up homeowner was handicapped, we built a home with an open floor plan, an elevator in the house and we made entrances and hallways bigger,” Jacobsen said.
Looking ahead to future competitions, the girls will continue their technique of using each other as their best resource. It hasn't happened, but should one of the team members forget their lines for a speech or presentation, chances are her friends are there for back-up.
"I have Alyssa's speeches basically memorized," Jacobsen said. "Before a project is due, or before this TSA competition, she would FaceTime me and say, 'Can I read you my speech?' She's done that so much, I know it as well as she does."
Aside from TSA competitions, the girls also partnered in February on a topic that held special meaning to each of them, cancer research.
Their project, “The Evolution of Cancer Treatment,” won the girls first-place in the Senior Division of the Group Exhibit category at the Manatee County History Fair, which was held Feb. 9 through Feb. 11 at the fairgrounds in Palmetto.
The students all have at least one family member who has been diagnosed with cancer.
Bohan’s grandmother, “Grandma Barb,” was undergoing chemotherapy and died from brain, lung and blood cancer while the girls worked on the project.
“This project was really to honor her,” Jacobsen said. "Along with all the people we know who have been affected by cancer.”
With Moreford leading the group as the primary researcher, the girls spent five weeks reviewing early cancer treatments and how practices have transformed over the years.
Their studies date from the mid-1800s to 1947, when the first chemotherapy drug was approved, and through to present day.
A record number of Americans are surviving cancer today, the girls said.
“The process was really eye opening,” Moreford said. “After working on this, the project made us all optimistic that a cure can be found, maybe even in our lifetime.”