By: Enrique Vargas and Wilson González Espada, Science Puerto Rico
"I got frustrated. I got excited. It made me think. It made me cry."
Whoever hears the student Hericka Loraine Cruz Luciano, would believe that she is describing her favorite movie, a play, or a famous novel, where emotions flow from the deepest sadness to the most euphoric joy with the speed of a thought.
She was, in fact, referring to her experience as a scientific researcher. The student is in the 12th grade at the Josefa Vélez Bauzá High School in the town of Peñuelas, where she has developed a multi-year project that has led her to conquer scientific skills in Puerto Rico and abroad.
According to Hericka, her wave energy project began in the 9th grade, thanks to the motivation of her mother, Profa. Lilybeth Luciano Candelario. Lilybeth noticed in Hericka scientific curiosity and an ability to express herself and communicate, and suggested that she participate in the school's scientific fair.
At first, the student saw the "huge poster boards" of the science fair projects as something that was going to give her a lot of work and as something that she did not feel capable of doing. The support of her mother and the collaboration of her teachers, Vicmaris Lugo (chemistry) and Víctor Galarza (physics), both of the Josefa Vélez Bauzá High School, finally convinced Hericka to enter the scientific fair.
The selection of the project consisted of reviewing an extensive list of topics and seeing which one caught her attention. At the same time, she followed his mother's advice, which emphasized that the topic should be good, competitive and innovative, as well as unique, feasible, cost-effective and relevant to the student's community.