Pikes Peak Pebble Pups

Pikes Peak Pebble Pups

Tuesday, March 28, 2017


By Steven Wade Veatch

Jenna Salvat, Colorado Springs Mineralogical Society’s Earth Science scholar and former Pebble Pup, took home the top prize in Senior High Physical Science category at the 2017 Pikes Peak Regional Science Fair when she won first place on February 28, 2017. Jenna was presented her award by Dr. Rob Kolstad during the awards ceremony at Library 21C in Colorado Springs amid the cheers of her family, fellow students, and Steven Veatch, Pebble Pup Director.  Jenna also received several other awards:

  • Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association
  • Arizona State University Walton Sustainability
  • Association for Women Geoscientists
  • Georgia and Charlie Matteson Award
  • I-SWEEP Outstanding Scientist
  • NASA Earth System Science Award
  • Northrop Grumman Excellence Award
  • US Air Force Award
  • US Navy Science Award

Jenna Salvat is seen holding her science fair awards 
with Steven Veatch, Pebble Pup and Earth Science Scholar
 Director. Photo © by S.K. Veatch.
Jenna was one of 40 students invited to the Colorado Science and Engineering Fair, April 6-8, 2017 at Colorado State University, and she was one of only three students invited to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF). The Intel ISEF will be May 14-19 in Los Angeles.
Jenna’s work has caught the eye of Fishbowl Films of Los Angeles, California. The movie company is planning a film about selected teens growing up in the 21st century who create scientific solutions to the most pressing issues on the planet through their participation in the largest and most prestigious high school science competition in the world, the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. The film, by Laura Nix, plans to document the start of Jenna’s science fair to the end of her journey as a competitor at the Intel ISEF.

Jenna’s award-winning project was on crystalline silicon dioxide and the potential of the generation of voltage through its pyroelectric (charge generated when heated or cooled) and piezoelectric (charge generated in response to applied mechanical stress) properties.
According to Jenna, “The highest point in the project was watching the electrical signal feedbacks on the oscilloscope as it recorded the electrical fields being induced by mechanical stress and temperature increase.”  Jenna conducted some of her investigations at one of the laboratories at the Colorado School of Mines. Dr. Katharina Pfaff, a research assistant professor at the Colorado School of Mines, was instrumental in making arrangements for Jenna to use the QEMSCAN lab.

Jenna Salvat proudly displays her first place ribbon 
she won for first place in the senior high physical sciences 
category. Photo © by Steven Veatch. 

The most difficult part of Jenna’s science fair project was locating a facility to conduct her experiments. Jenna plans to continue her research and will need to find a research institution with an interferometer, a lock-in amplifier, and a He-Ne laser for next year. She is also in need of a large-scale autoclave or autoclave reactor with a buffer that allows for two distinct temperature gradients. Jenna said, “My plans for the future are to utilize more precise methods in relation to my experimentation and characterization for next year's portion of this project. I will begin to test a wide variety of materials that are classified as thermovoltaics. I will test these using the proper instrumentation and represent my data mathematically. I will be able to further characterize thermovoltaic materials by calculating their coefficients. I also will pursue the hydrothermal synthesis of alpha-phase silicon dioxide and will learn how to prepare silicon wafers. I plan to develop a small scale thermovoltaic transducer or electromechanical energy system that can be implemented in surface geothermal vents and features, as well as a variety of other applications. 

Jenna is in 10th grade at Coronado High School. She is also a volunteer interpretive ranger at the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument in the summer. 

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Welcome! This is the gateway to adventure and discovery

Through this blog pebble pups and junior members of the Colorado Springs Mineralogical Society can access their lessons, work on assignments and projects, and receive details about field trips in the Pikes Peak Region. This Internet program is also suitable for young people who are interested in Earth science but do not live near a rock club or gem and mineral society or for young people anywhere who want a deeper dive into these topics. The only requirement is that all participants must be members of the Colorado Springs Mineralogical Society and must fill out the CSMS membership form (under important websites) and send their registration and membership fee in. Steven Veatch is the senior instructor and will need an email from you with your name, address, phone number, and permission from your parents to participate in this program.