Being ‘mousy’ proves beneficial for Shepard senior
BY CHERYL DANGEL BARTOLINI Correspondent July 13, 2014 2:50PM
Sarah Wohler, of Shepard High School, won a science fair conference title for her mousetrap car. | Supplied photo by Bob McParland
Updated: July 14, 2014 2:08AM
References to building “a better mousetrap” sometimes refer generically to any kind of invention that improves on an existing product.
But Sarah Wohler, a senior-to-be at Shepard High School in Palos Heights, really did it. When she was named Science Fair conference champion last year, it was because she built a better mousetrap — or, to be more precise, a better mousetrap car — than her competitors.
It started simply enough as a physics assignment: build a mousetrap car.
“Back when we did it, we tested them in a hallway and mine went a pretty significant distance compared to those from the other students,” Wohler said. The next thing she knew, her physics teacher, Brian Sievers, had entered her in the science fair competition.
“I really think that all the students made their cars more complicated than they needed to,” said Wohler, who used lightweight woods and metals that wouldn’t create a lot of friction. “I built it for making the longest distance vs. making it look super pretty. I kept it simple and basic, which is what won the competition.”
Wohler didn’t win by chance. She thoroughly enjoys science.
“Science is my forte when it comes to academics. It really interests me because I like physics,” she said. “You learn all these concepts and then you can apply it to your real life. Everything you see, you can relate back to physics in your real life, and that is what draws me toward it.”
Wohler, 17, isn’t all about science. She’s quite diverse in her interests.
She’s also a member of the All-South Suburban Conference dance team, thanks to her efforts for a competitive dance team at Shepard that finds her participating in various jazz routines.
“We are the Astronette dance team,” she said. “We did a few prior competitions to the South Suburban Conference, where we placed second in our division.
“Dancing is probably one of the biggest parts of my life. I really think it is a great way to express yourself, especially if you are an insecure person and can’t express yourself through words. I think dancing can bring out your emotions and set yourself free. It represents who I am.”
Wohler also has earned Honors with Distinction, the highest academic honor a student can receive in Community High School District 218.
In her advanced placement English class, she led a research team that profiled restaurants that exploit women.
The daughter of Kenneth and Diane Wohler, of Crestwood, said she doesn’t have just one role model.
“My role model is a combination of scientists, like my physics teacher, Mr. Sievers. He is important to me because he shows me I can be successful,” she said.
She also admires her dance instructor, Jackie Roth, who coaches at Shepard.
“She grew up like I did, loving dance, and now she is leading our dance team,” Wohler said. “We’ve made extreme strides from before her to where we are today. She makes me aspire to bring academics and dance together to create my future.”
After high school, Wohler would like to attend college and is considering majoring in engineering.
“I want to stick with my enjoyment of sciences and I’ll definitely be doing a minor in dance,” she said.
Based on her track record, there should not be much doubt that she can succeed.
“I think my perseverance really keeps me focused,” she said. “I think about my future a lot when I am doing activities. I realize that what I do now will affect my future.
“I need to do my best now so that I can show the best that I am to colleges.”