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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

UNCP’s Region IV Science Fair was February 26

The 30th Annual Progress Energy Region IV Science Fair was held at UNC Pembroke on February 26.

At 30, the Science Fair remains a valuable tool for nurturing science among school children, said participants, their teachers and parents.

Brooke Smith of Lumberton

Brooke Smith of Lumberton

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Tara Ivey’s daughter, 11-year-old Brooke Smith, from Lumberton was attending her first Science Fair. Her research asked if plants could grow successfully on grey water that she recycled from the family’s clothes washer.

Brooke said she was nervous when the judges, who were UNCP scientists, interviewed her. Her mother said she was even more nervous.

“Brooke has really enjoyed this, and we are already working on next year,” Ivey said. “It’s good to see the University is doing things like this for kids.”

Dr. Tom Ross, a UNCP geographer, was a judge for the 1981 Science Fair with founder Dr. Jose D’Arruda, a physicist and astronomer.

“I’ve judged all 30 of them,” Dr. Ross said. “I learn something every year.

“Oh yes, the Science Fair is well worth it,” he said. “This is the trigger of invention; this is the future of science.”

Dr. D’Arruda said the event was important to his own science career, and it reamins important in the development of young scientists.

“I had a very personal experience when I was in high school, and I believe it was my participation in science fairs that steered me to a career in science and, ultimately, changed my life,” Dr. D’Arruda said.

“I believe that the UNCP Science Fair will continue to be a successful enterprise with co-directors Drs. Tim Ritter and Brian Postek, and with the dedicated assistance of Carolyn Parsons, Cecelia Locklear and all the judges.”

The green shoots of scientific discovery were evident everywhere. Kaylen Cutler’s grandfather passed away recently from complications related to Alzheimer’s disease.

“I am studying how copper affects the blood and may be a co-factor in Alzheimer’s,” said Cutler, who is home schooled.

North Carolina Project SEED was represented by four high school students with solid research projects. SEED is a public-private consortium dedicated to nurturing promising young scientists.

“We’ve worked very hard on our research,” said Frank Tillman of Terry Sanford High School. “Besides learning research, we’ve learned basic lab techniques.”

The group’s hard work paid off.  SEED member, Joshua Harris of SandHoke Early College, won the top prize with his project “The Docking and Design of Ligands of HIV-1 Protease Using Virtual Screening.”

Kayla Robinson, who is home schooled in Harnett County, won the McDonald’s Award and $500 for her crime scene investigation using blood and Luminol, “a chemo-luminescent compound,” she said.

“Whether I win or not, I think it’s been a good experience,” she said before the awards ceremony. “I’ll be back next year.”

Her mother, Leslie, put in a good word for the event.

“I just wanted to thank the University for doing this and allowing home school students to participate,” Robinson said. “We love science at our house - my husband and I are engineers - so this is a natural for us.”

Robert Meggs of Bladen County

Robert Meggs of Bladen County

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Robert Meggs said he was very nervous when the judges interviewed him about his project, “Fire in the Forest.”

“I learned that burned-over forest re-grows faster because there is not as much competition for the pine seedlings,” Meggs explained. “My dad is a forest ranger, and I like being outdoors.”

Meggs, who represented the Clarkton School of Discovery, made several trips to the awards platform after winning first place in the Junior Earth/Environmental Science Division.

UNCP’s Newswire also interviewed several teachers who prepared students for the Science Fair. They had different strategies.

Steve Schrock of Overhills Middle School in Harnett County had three students in the competition.

“We held science fairs at each grade level, then the school level,” Schrock said. “The ones who are here today are the students who are really interested in science, and they get a lot out of this.”

Sharon Luellen and Matt Howington of Carroll Middle School in Lumberton got their school excited about science.

“A lot of kids came out, and you get to see who is really dedicated,” Howington said. “Our kids put in the extra effort, and from what I saw, it is definitely worth doing.”

“We started a Science Club with the goal of getting the kids ready for the Science Fair,” Luellen said.

“Nathan Stack of Alderman Road Elementary School in Cumberland County said it was a “great” day.

“Before coming here, we had a school science fair that DuPont judged for us,” Stack said.

Jennifer Kuechle, a third-grade teacher at Elizabeth Cashwell Elementary School in Cumberland County, said her school held different events throughout the school to promote science and the Science Fair.

“We have a science resource teacher who worked with all the kids on the scientific method,” Kuechle said. “I have really enjoyed this; it’s a beautiful campus.”

The day began and 7:30 a.m. and included campus tours and other events. Winners advance to the state competition in April.

The Region IV Science Fair was sponsored by Progress Energy. Prizes where contributed by McDonald’s Restaurants/Rust Enterprises, Lumber River Electric Membership Cooperative, UNCP’s Biotechnology Center, COMtech, Metcon Construction of Pembroke and the U.S. Navy.

Here are the winners:

Elementary Division Honorable Mention
Anna Kuzma, Academy Heights Elementary
Madeline Shewmaker, Lafayette Elementary           
Layne Randolph, Johnsonville Elementary
McKnight Pope, Carroll Middle
Adrianne Caudill, Green Ridge Elementary
Brittany Ward, Carroll Middle
Callie Lewis, Bladenboro Primary
Andrew Gill, Elizabethtown Primary

Elementary Winners (advance to the state)
Andrew Esterly, Alderman Road Elementary
Olivia Barnes, Elizabethtown Primary
Sarah Meares, Bladen Lakes Primary
Taylor Jessup, Elizabethtown Middle
Dane Faulkner, Long Hill Elementary
Mary Vorder Bruegge, home school
Grace Thompson, Armstrong Elementary
Wade Williams, Armstrong Elementary

Junior Biological Science A
Honorable Mention: Erick Guerro, Sanford-Lee Middle
3rd Place: Brandon Wheeler, Western Harnett Middle
2nd Place: Grace McNeill & Meredith Dickens, Western Harnett Middle
1st Place: Emily Scott, Clarkton School of Discovery

Junior Biological Science B
Honorable Mention: Anna Grace Long, Clarkton School of Discovery
3rd Place: Kasslynn Ansted, Sanford-Lee Middle
2nd Place: Jade Noble, East Hoke Middle
1st Place: Olivia Manning, Western Harnett Middle

Junior Earth/Environmental Science
Honorable Mention: Emily Moffitt, Western Harnett Middle
3rd Place: Maurico Winston, East Hoke Middle
2nd Place: Cody Kaplan, East Hoke Middle
1st Place: Robert Meggs, Clarkton School of Discovery

Junior Technology/Engineering
Honorable Mention: Joshua Ferdandez, East Hoke Middle
3rd Place: Luke Foushee, Sanford-Lee Middle
2nd Place: Ashima Varma, Harnett Central Middle
1st Place: Abby Norris, Clarkton School of Discovery

Senior Chemistry
Honorable Mention: Kayla Robinson, home school
Honorable Mention: Jasmine Dunham, E.E. Smith High
3rd Place: Frank Tillman, Terry Sanford High
2nd Place: Kaylen Cutler,
1st Place: Joshua Harris, SandHoke Early College

Senior Earth/Environmental Science
1st Place: Emily Meggs, East Bladen High School

Senior Technology
2nd Place: Megan Chavis, home school
1st Place: Calvin McGilvary Jr., Hoke High

McDonald’s Award
Kayla Robinson, home school

Junior Navy Awards
Miller Heustess, Clarkton School of Discovery
Jade Noble, East Hoke Middle
Natalie Hardin, Clarkton School of Discovery

Senior Navy Awards
Jasmine Dunham, E.E. Smith High School
Kayla Robinson, home school

Biotechnology Center Award
Christian McNeill, Alderman Road Elementary

Lumbee River EMC Award
Layne Randolph, Johnsonville Elementary
Abby Norris, Clarkton School of Discovery
Megan Chavis, home school
Matt Epps of LREMC

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