Students of Science Fair Earn Awards

June, 2017

For the eleventh year, North Group sponsored an award at the annual Humboldt County Science Fair held in mid-March. The projects were so competitive in 2017 that a second prize was given.

The $50 first-place award went to “Jammin’ Freshwater: The Influence of Log Jams on Macroinvertebrates in Freshwater Creek” by Anneli and Mathilde Macdonald, seventh graders at Jacoby Creek School. They hypothesized that there would be more macroinvertebrates in a natural log jam area than in a stretch where human intervention had removed wood and debris from the stream.

They used kick nets to sample two of each type of area on three different days, finding in all cases that there were more macroinvertebrates in log jam areas (as well as juvenile lamprey eels). Log jams slow down the stream and collect leaves and sediment, making them a natural habitat for the macroinvertebrates upon which many creatures further up the food chain depend. Anneli and Mathilde also identified multiple macroinvertebrates that were sensitive to pollution, telling them that Freshwater Creek was not very polluted.

A $25 second-place prize was awarded to “What Influences Early Teens’ Views of Climate Change in Humboldt County?” by Eva Weller, an eighth grader at Pacific Union School. Eva wanted to investigate possible factors and reasons for junior high students to believe that climate change is occurring.

Among her hypotheses were: 1) girls would more often believe in climate change than boys because their brains are more developed; 2) more eighth graders than seventh graders would believe because they have more schooling; 3) teens who have visited no national parks would
be less likely to believe; 4) teens who spend more time outside would be more likely to believe; 5) teens who are influenced by teachers, scientific studies, and personal experience would be more likely to believe; and 6) Humboldt County teens will believe at a higher percentage than the rest of the nation. 

Eva received 204 completed surveys from six different schools. Eighty-five percent of those responding believed that climate change was happening (versus 5 percent not believing and 9 percent not sure). She found that more girls than boys and more eighth than seventh graders believed in climate change. Students who had visited the most national parks were most likely (96 percent) to believe. The amount of time spent outdoors did not correlate with belief. Believers were most influenced by scientific studies, while nonbelievers were most influenced by news coverage. Believers were most concerned about melting glaciers, while nonbelievers were most concerned about forest fires.

Both projects were among the 19 selected to represent Humboldt County in the state science fair competition held in late April, where Eva Weller placed third.

North Group received a thank-you note from the Macdonald sisters saying that “we appreciate the award a lot; it makes all of our hard work on our project seem worthwhile.”


One need not be a Sierra Club member to participate in these outings. Please join us!

Saturday, June 10—North Group Del Norte Redwoods State Park Last Chance Coastal Trail Hike. Join us for this easygoing ramble through lush old-growth upon a stretch of Redwood Highway replaced in the 1930s by the present 101 route, itself soon to be abandoned for more stable inland terrain.

With luck, we can descend to the beach below. We will see how the main roadway is evolving with the latest round of slope failures. Bring water and lunch. No dogs. Medium difficulty, 8 miles, less than 1,000 feet in elevation change.

Carpools 9 a.m. at Valley West (Ray’s) Shopping Center, 10:30 a.m. at Damnation Creek trailhead (3.3 mi. north of Wilson Creek bridge, west side Hwy. 101) Contact leader Ned with inquiries,, (707) 825-3652. Heavy rain cancels.

Saturday, July 15—North Group Mt. Lassic Wilderness and Botanical Area, Six Rivers NF Hike. Take a scenic drive and hike with us in this natural wonderland off of Highway 36. See vernal pools, stark serpentine, peridotite barrens, and vegetation with character. After this season’s abundant rain and snow, we should see some good regeneration from the 2015 wildfires. We will ascend distinctive 5,916-foot Black Lassic and explore other nearby features.

Bring lunch and extra water, and dress for the weather. No dogs. Medium difficulty, about 6 miles, about 1,000 feet in elevation change.

Carpools: meet 8 a.m. at Herrick Ave. Park’n’Ride in Eureka. By reservation only. Contact leader Ned at or (707) 825-3652. Bad weather cancels.

Please Join Us!

The North Group’s Executive Committee meets the second Tuesday of each month in the first floor conference room at the Adorni Center on the waterfront in Eureka.  The meeting, which covers regular business and conservation issues, begins at 6:45 p.m. Members and non-members with environmental concerns are encouraged to attend. When a new person comes to us with an environmental issue or concern, we often place them first or early on the agenda.