9th Annual Region 1 Science Fair Set at MCLA

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Update: Friday's snowstorm has postponed the science fair to Thursday, March 14.

Past science fairs have featured experiments and devices ranging from biology to energy to accessibility

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts has announced the 9th annual Massachusetts Region 1 High School Science and Engineering Fair will take place on Friday, March 8, in the Amsler Campus Center gymnasium.

The public is invited to attend a viewing of this year's projects from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m., and to attend a presentation by keynote speaker Pat Muraca, president and chief executive officer at Nuclea Biotechnologies of Pittsfield.

Monica Joslin, dean of academic affairs at MCLA, said the fair provides "a wonderful opportunity" for students to connect and interact with 60 judges — all of whom are experts in their fields — and to learn about career opportunities in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields.

"The students have been working on their projects throughout the school year. Participation in the science fair is one way to engage students in sciences, and an opportunity for students to connect with experts in their field of study and to learn about career opportunities in the STEM fields," Joslin said.

Muraca has more than 16 years of experience in the development of life science technology, including the development of microscopic-based digital imaging technology. In addition to having some 20 scientific abstracts and publications concentrating in the area of new biomarkers in cancer, he is a named inventor on approximately 10 U.S. and international utility and design patents.

Nuclea Biotechnologies develops for commercialization clinical diagnostic assays identifying gene and protein expression profiles characteristic of an individual's tumor or disease. The company is committed to advancing discovery and validation of clinical test platforms that are predictive of a cancer patient's responsiveness to oncology therapeutics and the likelihood of disease recurrence.

A graduate of Clark University in Worcester, Muraca is an affiliate member of the American College of Medical Genetics, a member of the American Association of Tissue Banks, as well as a board member of the Jimmy Fund Council of the Berkshires. In addition, he is a co-founder and board member of Nuclea Biotechnologies. Muraca is the former president and chief operating officer of Clinomics Biosciences Inc. and the director of diagnostic programs for Oncor, Inc.

About 80 students from nine schools in Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden and Hampshire counties will participate and present their work in the areas of biology, behavioral and social science, biochemistry, botany, chemistry, computer science, earth and space science, engineering, environmental science, mathematics, medicine, microbiology, physics and zoology.

Participating schools include Amherst Regional High School, Berkshire Arts and Technology Public Charter School, Minnechaug Regional High School, Mohawk Trail Regional High School, Pittsfield High School, St. Joseph’s Central High School, Taconic High School, The MacDuffie School and Westfield High School.

The students’ projects will be judged on several criteria, including scientific approach, innovation and creativity, and presentation. Forty finalists will be selected to advance to the Massachusetts State Science and Engineering Fair, to be held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in May, where they will have an opportunity to advance to the International Science and Engineering Fair.

The top two projects from the Region I Fair also will be selected to attend the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair held this year in Pittsburgh on May 13-18. Top-scoring projects at the Region I Fair also will be selected for special awards and prizes from government agencies and businesses.

The science fair is a program of the Berkshire STEM Pipeline. The goal of the Pipeline is to build a connection between higher education, local schoolchildren in Grades K-12, businesses and non-profit agencies, and to see that all students are educated in STEM fields. The Pipeline also aims to enable youth to pursue post-secondary degrees or careers in these areas, and to raise their awareness of the benefits associated with an increased statewide focus on STEM.

For more information, go to www.mcla.edu/About_MCLA/Community/stempipeline/regionihssciencefair or contact Chris Himes, STEM program manager, at c.himes@mcla.edu .

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Hoosac Valley Braces for Potential Budget Cuts to Close $480K Gap

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff

The School Committee will see different budget presentations in March.
CHESHIRE, Mass. — The Hoosac Valley Regional School District is bracing for a tough budget cycle and will work with Adams and Cheshire to make up budget gaps.
Superintendent Aaron Dean told the School Committee on Monday that he has already met with Adams officials to discuss the fiscal 2021 budget that in its early form is $480,000 short.
"The reality is that we have to close a gap of $480,000 at this time given the numbers on the cherry sheet and the normal increases in the budget," he said. "We will restructure and we will continue to do great things with kids we just have to find ways to consolidate and do things differently." 
Business Manager Erika Snyder said the conversation with Adams would have happened sooner but there was still some uncertainty around the cherry sheet that details the district's state revenues and debits. Dean added that he will soon meet with Cheshire officials to continue this discussion.
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