Science Fair: Simply AmazingBy Jen Thomas
12:00AM / Saturday, March 10, 2007
North Adams - Technology and science were the names of the games yesterday as The Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts hosted the Massachusetts Science Fair for region 1. The event brought 67 projects and 117 students from Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden and Hampshire counties to the to the MCLA Campus Center gymnasium.
|Science fair winner Jane Fomina and cancer researcher and Indiana University Professor Linda Malkas|
Students displayed their fair exhibits and answered questions about the projects.
A hydrogen-powered generator shared a row with the solar-powered “beam bots,” and hovercraft inventions were just a step away from the ultimate hockey shot trainer. Projects concentrated on areas of behavioral and social sciences, biochemistry, botany, chemistry, computer science, earth and space science, engineering, environmental science, mathematics, medicine, microbiology, physics, and zoology.
“These projects are very impressive,” said Monica Joslin, the chairwoman for the Region I planning committee. “We need more scientists, more researchers, more engineers, and more technicians.”
Projects were judged using four criteria: technical approach/method, innovativeness/creativity, oral presentation and teamwork, and laboratory notebook. Each student was evaluated four or five times and the total score was an average of all the evaluations.
“It’s for reliability,” said Joslin. “It’s a more fair system for the students.”
40 projects from the regional fair advanced to the state fair to be held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on May 3-5.
Additionally, the two first-lace winners, Jane Fomina of Westfield High School and Ryan Sandvik from Mohawk Trail Regional, automatically win a trip to New Mexico to compete in the International Science and Engineering Fair.
“The projects are amazingly sophisticated,” said Linda Malkas, the keynote speaker at the fair. “These kids are addressing really important issues.”
Jane Fomina, 16, had been working on her “Computational Exploration of Protein Functions” since November before being selected to represent her school at the regional fair. Her project focused on exploring the function of two proteins – Cytochrome C and Myoglobin.
“This experience was simply amazing,” said Fomina, who is originally from Russia, after winning $300 and the first-place honor.
“This is my first time ever doing something like this,” said Amber Tidland, a freshman at Greenfield High School. Tidland won a second-place award for her project on the air quality of her hometown. She also took home a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration special award.
“Overall, it’s been a really good experience,” said Stephanie Wren, a senior at Taconic High School.
Her project, titled “The Effects of Hexadecyltrimethylammoniumbromide on Biological Activities,” studied how a common chemical (also called cetrimonium) would affect the growth of plants. She also received a second-place recognition.
“I’ve been able to show off all my hard work,” she said.
The fair moved to MCLA three years ago, after previously being held at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Up to 12 teams of students came from the Berkshire Arts & Technology Charter School in Adams, Drury High School in North Adams, Greenfield High School, Hopkins Academy in Hadley, Mohawk Trail Regional High School in Shelburne Falls, Westfield High School, and Taconic and Pittsfield High Schools.
For a full list of winners, visit www.mcla.edu/pipeline/scifair07.php .