Students collect honors at state research competition


First Posted: 3/31/2009

DURHAM Several area students competed in the NCSAS Research Competition last weekend at the North Carolina School of Science and Math in Durham with many of them winning awards.
The students, both middle and high schoolers, had to complete a science project and write a research paper to participate in the competition. They must also present their projects to judges and are judged not only on the project but their presentation of it.
The research competition is a heavier competition. Its an in-depth analysis of the project, said Rob Halpern, science teacher at Millennium Charter Academy. The moment they take on a research project, they step into the role of scientist. Thats what makes me want to do this. I can give kids the opportunity to stand out.
Students from Mount Airy High School, Surry Early College High School of Design and Millennium Charter Academy competed in the research portion of the event. Isabella Gillespie, Will Pfitzner and Paulina Kriska represented the Early College, while Jillian Epperson and Danielle Jones represented Mount Airy High School.
Millennium Charter Academy had the largest group of middle schoolers to participate in the state competition and received more awards than any other middle school. In addition to that, seven students from the school were the first in the history of the competition to present projects in two categories, according to Halpern.
Ford Moore received first place in the middle school biology division for his project on which legumes are most beneficial in gardens. This is the third year he has participated in the competition. However, he said he was impressed by the number of people who turned out for this years competition.
Jake Nester, Emma Harrison, Jessica Williamson, Shania King and Joey Pearman worked together on a project dealing with saltwater aquariums and the breeding of different types of fish and took third place in the biology division.
We went last year, but it was still sort of nerve-wracking, said Williamson. Things really eased off when Emma couldnt find the jump drive. We were all laughing, and it reminded us that were all human. We wanted to do better than last year when we got honorable mention. To get something was really exciting.
I was the first person in the group to present. Everyone looks at you to see how it goes, said Harrison.
King did not get the chance to go to the competition, choosing to participate in a family event instead. However, she hopes to have the opportunity to go to the competition next year.
I really wish I wouldve went. Everybody says its a really good experience. I was worried about if something wouldve happened, she said. I was excited when they told me we got third.
Jordan Jackson, Ashley Martin, Sydney Cromer and Panayiota Boutis worked as a group and placed second in the biology division. This was Jacksons second year at the competition, and she felt better prepared. She did a project on wetlands and filtering abilities.
Know your project well. Presentation is one of the biggest parts. You have to show the judges what you know about your project, she said as advice to future research competition participants.
Andrew Balogh received second place in the chemistry division for his project about the effects of temperature on what electrolysis.
I was excited, because last year I won second place. This was a continuation from last year when I only tried one temperature. This year I tried several temperatures, he said.
Marissa Petri received first place in the chemistry division for her project about vitamin C. She came up with the idea for the project because her mom is a doctor and she has always been interested in vitamins. She titrated fruits and vegetables to test the amount of vitamin C they each had.
I was one of the last in my group to go, she said. At first I was really nervous. Then when I got up and presented, I felt better. There were really difficult projects there.
Will Campbell received second place in the environmental science division for his project about the water that shoots out of the toilet when it is flushed and whether that water could contaminate a toothbrush. He has always been interested in microbiology and decided to build on last years project.
Its tough because youve got to remember that its not just students from your school, its a whole new level. There are a bunch of people who worked hard to get to where they are, he said of the competition. Make sure you have something to say. You cant just read your PowerPoint. Make sure you know what youre talking about.
Ryan Worth received the U.S. Navy Award for his project about how common E. coli is in local water supplies.
John Ferry, Micaela Tumbarello, Adam Cave, John Bowman, Taylor Knight, Samantha Tickles, Daniel Robinson, Tyler Shuttleworth, Lyubomir Gizdarski, Mary Beth Browne and Samuel Watson also attended the competition from the school.
Cave, Nester, Moore, Jackson, Harrison, Williamson and Shuttleworth were the seven students who presented in two different categories at the competition.
The students at the competition had the opportunity to hear from keynote speaker Oliver Smithies, a Nobel Laureate.
Millennium Charter Academy also received a special surprise when Halpern was named the NCSAS middle school teacher of the year in support of science-based research projects. He is not only a middle school science teacher at the school but also the co-director for the regional science fair, the regional director for the North Carolina Student Academy of Sciences and the regional director of the N.C. Science Teachers Association.
Contact Morgan Wall at [email protected] or 719-1929.

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