NC students climb the science fair ladder

vbridges@newsobserver.comJune 29, 2014 

  • N.C. Science and Engineering Fair winners

    Each year thousands of students compete in local, county and regional science competitions across the state.

    Those winners go on to compete in the N.C. Science and Engineering Fair, which was held at Meredith College in Raleigh. A handful of those students are invited to international competitions.

    The general awards from the statewide fair are broken down by categories based on age and topic. These are the Triangle students who were recognized in the statewide competition, along with their awards and schools.

    Divisional Elementary Awards

    Isabella Antonio, exemplary project, Triangle Math and Science Academy in Cary; Elias Guedira, exemplary project, Triangle Math and Science Academy; Ashleigh Smith, exemplary project, Chesterbrook Academy in Cary; Evan Szypulski, honorable mention, Kingswood Elementary in Cary.

    Divisional Junior Awards

    Abigail Malach and Vincent Roche, third place in biological science A, The Franciscan School in Raleigh; Lauren Barber, first place in earth/environment science, St. Timothy’s School in Raleigh;

    Allison Baumgartner, first place in technology/engineering, The Franciscan School; Christopher Esther, third place in biological science B, Pollard Middle School in Chapel Hill; Anna Decarlucci, second place in biological science B, The Franciscan School; Arun Sarma, honorable mention in chemistry, Carnage Middle School in Raleigh.

    Divisional Senior Awards

    Anne Feng, second place in biological science A, N.C. School of Science and Mathematics in Durham; Shalier Xia, Katherine Wang and Caroline Liu, honorable mention in biological science A, N.C. School of Science and Mathematics; Christopher Zhen, first place in chemistry, N.C. School of Science and Mathematics; Michael Zhou, third place in chemistry, East Chapel Hill High; Joshua Casey, third place in earth/environmental science, Eastern Alamance High in Mebane; Justin Yang, first place in physics, N.C. School of Science and Mathematics;

    Jenny Wang, first place in technology/engineering, N.C. School of Science and Mathematics; Megan Miller, second place in technology/engineering, Western Alamance High in Elon; Chase Lewis, honorable mention in technology/engineering, homeschooled in Chapel Hill; Jarrod Dunne, third place in technology/engineering, Franklin Academy in Wake Forest; Hannah McShea, first place in biological science B, N.C. School of Science and Mathematics; Timothy Qi, third place in biological science B, N.C. School of Science and Mathematics.

    Other Awards

    In addition to the above awards, students were recognized in the statewide and some in international competitions with awards presented by specific organization and companies. Those students include:

    •  Kathryn Leonard of Immaculata Catholic School in Durham received the Junior EPA Award.

    • Margaret Tian of the N.C. School of Science and Mathematics, who received was recognized with the ASM Materials Education Foundation Award and the U.S. Army Award.

    •  Anna Decarlucci of The Franciscan School , Lauren Barber of St. Timothy’s School and Allison Baumgartner of The Franciscan School were recognized at the state level as Grand Broadcom Masters.

    •  Jenny Wang of the N.C. School of Science and Mathematics won several statewide awards including , the Intel Excellence in Computer Science Award, the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair Senior Grand Award and the Yale Science and Engineering Association Award. Jenny went on to win second place in Computer Science division at the 2014 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair competition in Los Angeles.

    • Anne Feng of the N.C. School of Science and Mathematics received the state level Intel International Science and Engineering Fair Senior Grand Award.

    •  Hannah McShea of the N.C. School of Science and Mathematics received the state level Intel International Science and Engineering Fair Senior Grand Award and the U.S. Army Award. Hannah also went on to win fourth place in the Cellular and Molecular Biology division at the 2014 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair competition.

    • Christopher Zhen of the N.C. School of Science and Mathematics received the state level Intel International Science and Engineering Fair Senior Grand Award.

    •  Justin Yang of the N.C. School of Science and Mathematics received at the state level the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair Senior Grand Award and the Mu-Alpha Theta Award.

    •  Megan Miller of Western Alamance High received the state level International Sustainable World (Energy, Engineering & Environment) Project Senior Grand Award and the Meredith President’s Award. Megan also went on to win a silver award in energy at the 2014 International Sustainable World (Energy, Engineering & Environment) Project Olympiad competition in Houston.

    • Kathleen O’Melia of Chapel Hill Hearth School received the N.C. American Water Works Association Junior Award and was regional nominee for the Stockholm Junior Water Prize.

    • Joshua Zhou of East Chapel Hill High received the N.C. American Water Works Association Senior Award and the U.S. Army Award. Joshua also went on to receive the silver award in environment at the 2014 International Sustainable World (Energy, Engineering & Environment) Project Olympiad competition.

    •  Joshua Casey of Eastern Alamance High in Mebane received the state level N.C. American Water Works Association Senior Award and the Grand Genius Olympiad Award. Joshua went on to win a silver medal at the International Genius Olympiad competition in Oswego, N.Y.

    •  Andrew Esther North Chatham Elementary in Chapel Hill received the N.C. American Water Works prize in the elementary school category.

    • Bryce Beard of Walnut Creek Elementary in Raleigh received the RTI International Improving the Human Condition Award.

    •  Caroline Liu, Katherine Wang and Shalier Xia, all of the N.C. School of Mathematics and Science, received a Society for In Vitro Biology Award.

    • Chase Lewis, who is homeschooled in Chapel Hill, received the U.S. Army Award.

    • Andrew Zhou, Sanjay Kannan and Elish Mahajan, all of Raleigh Charter High, placed third and won $1,000 in the Computer Science division at the 2014 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Los Angeles. The team also received GoDaddy Mobile Application Award and its $1,500 prize.

From Mebane to Oswego, N.Y., and soon Turkey, rising 11th-grader Joshua Casey is riding his science fair successes on a journey that will eventually take him across the Atlantic Ocean.

In December, Joshua, 15, of Graham entered Eastern Alamance High’s science fair. The fair divided is into different categories, such as earth and environmental science, biological science, chemistry, physics and technology and engineering.

Joshua’s project tested the effect that global warming had on oxygen production and survival of freshwater phytoplankton, microscopic organisms that live in wet environments.

Joshua set up eight containers with purified water, nutrients and freshwater plankton.

Two containers he left alone, two faced elevated temperatures, two faced elevated carbon dioxide and two faced elevated temperature and carbon dioxide, both effects linked to global warming.

After monitoring the samples for 30 days, he dried and weighed the plankton to measure their mass and reproduction.

Joshua found that the groups with increased carbon dioxide were able to produce more oxygen, but the increased temperature began to kill them, he said.

“So the combination of the two, which is what global warming would be, the increase temperature and increase in carbon dioxoide, would result in the death of most, if not all, of the plankton on Earth,” he said. And plankton produce much of the Earth’s oxygen, he said.

Joshua’s project won first in the Earth and environmental category in his school science fair and went on to the county and then regional levels.

In March, Joshua competed at the state level, where he placed third in his category. Joshua, however, was one of two at the fair to receive the Grand Genius Olympiad Award.

The Genius Olympiad Award goes to projects in environmental areas and sustainability. It it isn’t unusual for the award to go to students who didn’t win first place, but have projects that fit the criteria for the competitions.

That honor allowed him to go on to compete at the International Genius Olympiad competition in Oswego, N.Y., where he won a silver medal, a Kindle and an opportunity to compete at another international competition in Turkey in April 2015.

“It was a huge shock,” he said. “When that got announced, I didn’t know what to think. I had to wait until everybody turned around and looked at me to make sure they called my name.”

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