By Sarah Novicoff
Divya Siddarth ’14 won fourth place in the California State Science Fair Behavioral and Social Sciences Senior Division at the California Science Center. A total of 993 students from 421 schools participated in the fair from April 30 to May 1, 29 of them in Siddarth’s division. Three other students qualified.
Siddarth qualified for the state fair for her fifth consecutive year after winning first place in the Los Angeles County Fair March 29-31 at the Pasadena Convention Center. Her project, “Mood and Other Health Benefits of Yoga, Tai Chi and Aerobic Exercise,” focused on the effects of the activities in older adults. She found that those who participated in yoga and tai chi performed better on every single mood variable measured and reported fewer sleep problems when compared to aerobic exercise participants.
After years of doing yoga for fun, Siddarth began to realize that it helped her relax and was inspired to find out whether that translated to scientific health results. She visited her local YMCA and talked to many instructors before finding a few that would allow her to talk to their students. In the end, Siddarth had 42 volunteers fill out three separate validated surveys. One focused on mood, another on general health and the third on sleep patterns. Two of the surveys are available online while the third Siddarth obtained from a licensed psychologist whom she had worked with over the summer.