Students Show Off Projects at Region 1 Science Fair

By John DurkaniBerkshires.com Staff
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Taconic senior Aliza Ahlen qualified for the Massachusetts Biogenius Challenge with her project. For more photos, see the slideshow.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Projects ranged from honey-based antibiotics to snowboard physics all the way down to sink holes at the 9th annual Region 1 Science Fair at Massachusetts College Liberal Arts on Thursday afternoon.

The fair, which saw about 80 students and around 60 projects, pitted students from nine schools — four from Berkshire County — for two available first-place awards and a trip to Phoenix, Ariz., for the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in May. Twelve Forty other students qualified for the Massachusetts State Science and Engineering Fair.
 
"This is tremendous to see the room full of you here today and we're proud of what you have done," said Monica Joslin, dean of academic affairs at MCLA, also noting that the judges were "absolutely amazed."
 
Westfield High School took both first-place awards. Shannon Boley, a senior, won for her project "Effects of an Administrator's Prosody on Autistic Children" while seniors Dillon Sienko's and Patrick Monette's "Effects of Organically Enriched Soil on Tagetes Tenuifolia Development."
 
In addition to the state and international fairs, Boley qualified for the Massachusetts Biogenius Challenge. Taconic senior Aliza Ahlen also qualified with her project, "Honey; the Antibiotic." Ahlen's project examined the effectiveness of various honey types, as well as solutions, as an antibiotic. She concluded that raw honey was the best.
 
Some students focused their personal hobbies and interests into their projects. Michael Perkins, a student at Berkshire Arts and Technology Charter Public School and avid snowboarder who works at Bousquet Ski Resort in Pittsfield, studied differences in snowboard friction in comparison to weight and snowboard size.
 
A different project, done by BArT sophomore Jeannette Lambert, explored the science behind sink holes. Lambert said she thought of the topic before the media craze about the Florida man who was swallowed by one in his home earlier this month.
 
"It's a real problem that's happening," Lambert said.
 

BArT sophomore Jeannette Lambert shows her sink holes project to classmates.

Lambert is looking forward to expanding her project next year to a larger, 5-gallon bucket scale, an upgrade from the 8-ounce cups used this year.
 
A lot of students were looking forward to college as well. Ahlen has been accepted to University of Massachusetts at Amherst and is awaiting results from Cornell University and Smith College. Monette is shooting for the University of Rochester (N.Y.) and Sienko wants to study astrophysics with Harvard, Columbia and Dartmouth as three of his potential schools.
 
"All of these lessons and skills are important to your future no matter which career path or educational goal you have," said Kristen Pearson, co-chairman of the fair's planning committee.
 
Christopher Hines, STEM program manager at MCLA and co-chairman of the fair's planning board, hopes to expand on the fair in the future.
 
"One of the things we're trying to do is have more schools and students here," said Hines.
 
Also, keynote speaker Pat Muraca, president and chief executive officer at Nuclea Biotechnologies of Pittsfield, was absent because of a rescheduling conflict. The fair was originally scheduled for Friday, March 8, but was canceled after the area was hit by a snowstorm.

Tags: awards,   science fair,   STEM,   

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Berkshires Beat: BNRC Upgrades Popular Trails for 2019 Summer Season

Trail facelifts

On Monday, June 10, state Rep. Smitty Pignatelli joined members of the Berkshire Natural Resources Council (BNRC) board of directors, volunteers, staff and nature trail enthusiasts to unveil a redesigned trailhead kiosk and enhanced on-trail signage at BNRC's flagship conservation reserve, Yokun Ridge South at Olivia's Overlook. Similar upgrades have also been completed at 16 other BNRC trail sites across Berkshire County. All 54 BNRC reserves are open to the public year-round from dawn to dusk, free of charge.

Each updated kiosk features a large map of the reserve and its trail system; notes on the natural, cultural, and ownership history of the protected lands; and suggested activities for each property.  Also available at the kiosks are free, newly revised paper trail maps for visitor use. Easier-to-read on-trail signage, mostly in the form of large brown signs with white letters, has also been installed on many trails. Among these are trails at The Boulders, a BNRC property used by many, which spans across parts of Dalton, Lanesborough and the City of Pittsfield in the center of Berkshire County.

"These kiosk and signage improvements, coupled with BNRC's new Berkshire Trails app, will help everyone explore the richness of the Berkshires' hiking trails and outdoor opportunities," said BNRC President Jenny Hansell. At Monday's unveiling ceremony, Pignatelli spoke to the crowd of the economic importance of conservation land and outdoor recreation opportunities in the Berkshires.

Established in 1967, the Berkshire Natural Resources Council’s mission is to protect and preserve the natural beauty and ecological integrity of the Berkshires for public benefit and enjoyment. There are 54 BNRC conservation reserves spread across Berkshire County, free to the public, open to everyone for non-motorized recreation, featuring over 55 miles of maintained trails.

 

Cheshire food pantry

The Cheshire Pantry opened on Saturday, May 26, from 11 a.m. to noon at the Cheshire Community Center. The pantry will be available the first Saturday of each month. Emergency food is available as well as delivery service.

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