The Southeast Regional Science Fair was held in UNC Wilmington’s Hanover Gym on Feb. 8. Elementary, middle and high school competitors came from nine different counties in North Carolina to show their work to a series of judges.
The science fair was sponsored by CSTEM, a UNCW program that promotes STEM education (science, technology, engineering and math). It offered 200 students a chance to move on from the regional competition to the state competition. Some students entered the competition because of their love for science, while others were asked to participate by their science teachers.
Christine Harter and her daughter Jordan Harter came from Greenwood Middle School in Goldsboro to compete in the Regional Science Fair. Jordan’s project questioned the amount of Vitamin C in certain fruits.
“Jordan’s science teacher required them to participate in the science fair,” Harter said. “It had to be an experiment.”
Even though some students were required to participate, CSTEM hoped the science fair would spark children’s interest in science and mathematical fields.
Dennis Kubsko, associate professor and director of CSTEM’s center on campus, said sparking interest in certain fields is why CSTEM sponsors the yearly science fair.
“CSTEM sponsors the event to get kids excited about science, technology, engineering and math,” Kubsko said.
The different projects were divided into 13 different categories based on age and type of project. The topics included were Junior and Senior Biological Science A and B, Junior and Senior Chemistry, Junior and Senior Earth/Environmental Science, Junior and Senior Physics, Junior and Senior Technology/Engineering and Elementary.
Several people were asked to come judge the projects. Each judge had a specific type of project that they were in charge of. Diana Rashash, of the American Water Works Association, was a special judge in charge of judging water-related projects in all three age groups. When asked what she was looking for in a winning project, Rashash said that she was searching for several things.
“I am looking for water-related projects, but I am also looking for good science and a sound hypothesis,” Rashash said. “It is also good to see replication, good graphs, good interpretations and see the student ask ‘what if”.”
Overall, Rashash said a great project was something that a student is passionate about.
“Good projects are something that students are interested in,” she said. “They’ve got that curiosity and they want to find out.”
Murray Middle School student Elizabeth Kinsey entered a project that was chosen for several award categories. Her project involved oyster growth in certain water conditions.
“I really liked looking at how different types of sea creatures grow and stuff, and I really love the ocean,” Kinsey said. “At first I was going to see why oysters grow where they did, and so to do that I was going to look at an oyster recruitment project, but that didn’t really work because all of my recruitment tiles fell apart so I decided to do this instead.”
Kinsey’s project was one of 12 to move on to represent Region Two at the State Science fair and have an opportunity to move onto the World Science Fair. The State Science Fair will take place on March 28, 2014 at Meredith College.