by LYDIA COBB | photos by Zeena Gregg Photography

Discovering Purpose

student_pollner3Alina Pollner is a freshman at Canyon Crest Academy and is passionate about both science and math. “I love the feeling of discovering something new, or working hard and then solving a problem you had no idea you had the ability to solve,” remarked Alina, who helps run the math club for elementary students at Del Mar Pines School. Alina shared that science and math have expanded her horizons and are allowing her to make an impact in the world. More recently, it’s because her middle school life science project has turned heads.

Her project won first place in Behavioral and Social Sciences at the California State Science Fair. After winning in San Diego, Alina submitted “Screens vs. Paper: Effect on Teenagers’ Reading Comprehension.” She tested 145 students from her science teacher’s classes at Carmel Valley Middle School. “Ms. Clum was my wonderful science teacher at that time,” she explained. The participants read two articles – one in Chromebook and the other on paper – and took reading comprehension tests. “I found that there was no statistically significant difference between the two, which was incredible,” shared Alina, “considering nearly all previous research had found that reading on paper was better.” Because her generation is growing up in front of more screens, Alina considers this era a “transition phase” between paper and electronic media.

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Name: Alina Pollner (15)
School: Canyon Crest Academy
Grade: 9
Parents: Erika and Reinhold Pollner
Sibling: Tristan (18; Princeton University)
Favorite Local Spots: Soccer fields and Starbucks 


Outside of science, one of Alina’s enduring inspirations is soccer. She’s been playing for 10 years and is on a competitive soccer team with the Del Mar-Carmel Valley Sharks. She also loves adventure: backpacking and hiking in the Sierras and snorkeling in the ocean. Onstage, she enjoys improvisational acting. She especially enjoys her life in Carmel Valley, revealing, “It’s a special privilege to be able to walk to the movies, to go out to dinner, or to the bakery.”

“I want to make an impact and to help people be healthier and happier.”

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Of her accomplishments, Alina credits the amazing teachers she’s had in school. She dreams of pursuing studies in biology and the human body in college and related: “I want to make an impact and to help people be healthier and happier.” She envisions herself as a doctor or conducting medical research. “Anyone can be a scientist no matter their age, gender, or race,” she said, and described the achievement of success as an amazing feeling. No doubt, there are more amazing achievements to come in Alina Pollner’s journey.