Area students excel at state science fair


First Posted: 3/31/2009

DURHAM Isabella Gillespie, Zachary French and Mary Beth Browne had a successful outing at the North Carolina Science and Engineering Fair last weekend.
Gillespie, a ninth-grade student at the Surry Early College High School of Design, competed in the senior biological science category with her project, HOT STUFF: Can Human Chorionic Gonadotropin Increase Red Pepper Plan Productivity? She was awarded third place and a $75 cash prize.
HCG is found in the urine of pregnant women and was found to increase pepper plant productivity, which would have an impact in some of the worlds poorer countries if it is proven to work on other foods as well.
I learned a lot about the process this year and got a lot of help from local scientific experts, including Mr. Halpern (science teacher at Millennium Charter Academy), she said. Mr. Halpern always pushed me to think beyond the box. Im hoping to gain admission to the summer research program at the Wake Forest School of Medicine. Next year, Im planning a team science project that will hopefully capture a spot at national or international science competitions.
French, a seventh grader at Pilot Mountain Middle School, entered the fair with his project, Which Windmill Will Win? He was one of seven participants awarded the United States Air Force Award under the special awards category.
He studied which windmills produced the maximum revolutions per minute based on different combinations of variables. He hopes to elaborate on the project next year to ensure he comes up with the most accurate data.
I really hope to get back there next year, he said of the state fair.
Browne received an EPA award, a United States Air Force Award and is the first alternate for the International Sustainable World Energy, Environment and Engineering Project olympiad. If one of the two students selected from the state drops out, she will get the opportunity to travel to Houston, Texas, for ISWEEEP.
This is her second trip to the state science fair.
Its always really fun to go and see the other projects, she said. I always think Im really lucky to be here.
For her project, she designed and built a solar distiller and ran three types of water through it to see if it would be properly purified. If she expands on the project next year, she will look to see if she can find a way to heat up the bowls holding the water during the process.
Come up with a unique topic, work hard on your topic and know your project, she said of advice she would give to future science fair participants.
Contact Morgan Wall at [email protected] or 719-1929.

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