By Debbie Adams
Roanoke County Public Schools held the annual district-wide Science Fair for 2023 on Feb. 11 at Northside High School. Over 100 students from Roanoke County high schools and middle schools participated.
Roanoke County Supervisor of Science Tammy Sauls, who facilitated this year’s fair, welcomed the students and their guests to the fair and to the awards ceremony afterwards. She commended students for their hard work, the science teachers who “worked endless hours” assisting students on projects and preparing for the Science Fair, and the parents and families who supported their children.
School Superintendent Dr. Ken Nicely noted that the annual Science Fair celebrates a policy adopted by the school system seven years ago with the C-Change Framework– focused on content knowledge, communication, collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, and citizenship. While Roanoke County students are recognized across the state for their achievements on standardized testing, projects such as the Science Fair place the emphasis on “deeper purposeful learning,” not just rote learning.
“Science is something we do, not just learn about,” Nicely said.
Over 60 individuals served as judges for the competition. They included retired RCPS instructors, professors, assistant professors, Ph.D. students, and graduate assistants from Virginia Tech, Roanoke College, and Virginia Western Community College, and professionals from area industries.
In the Middle School Division, projects involved Biomedical and Health Sciences, Chemistry, Earth and Environmental Sciences/Environmental Engineering/Plant Sciences, Energy: Physical/Physics/Engineering Mechanics, and Materials Science/Embedded Systems, and Systems Software categories.
The High School Division included Animal Science, Behavioral and Social Sciences, Biomedical and Health Sciences, Chemistry, Earth and Environmental Science, Embedded Systems/Systems Software, Engineering Technology/Environmental Engineering, Materials Science, Physics, Translational Medial Sciences/Cellular and Molecular Biology/Microbiology, and Plant Science categories.
William Byrd Middle School participants included:
- Heidi Weinke, who won second place in Biomedical and Health Sciences for her project, “The Effect of the Brand of Sports Drink on the Number of Electrolytes.” Her sponsor was Kristi Warf.
- Norah Buck won fourth place in Chemistry for “Rise, Rise, but How High? The Effect of Baking Soda on Cake Height.” Her sponsor was Erin O’Donnell.
- Addison Collins also participated in the Chemistry category with “If Red Cabbage is used as a pH Indicator, Will It Measure pH Effectively?” Her sponsor was Heather Hall.
- Hendrix Wright and Cooper Kageals entered the Energy: Physical/Physics/Engineering Mechanics category with the project, “Does the Length of the Lacrosse Stick Change the Shot Power?” Their sponsor was Jessica Kingery.
- Payten Childress entered the Materials Science, Embedded Systems and Systems Software category with the project, “Tapp’n Loud: Effect of Material on Loudness of Tap Shoes.” Sponsor was Andrew Close.
In the High School Division of the RCPS Science Fair:
- Wyatt Bowles won first place in the Behavioral and Social Sciences category with his project, “The Effect of Limiting Speech Reading on Auditory Comprehension and Retention.” His sponsors were Ryan Adams and Melissa Carr.
- Jenny Nguyen and Caitlin Bishop completed research in the Behavioral and Social Sciences category with their project, “The Impact of Diet and Exercise on Brain Plasticity Through Memory Games,” winning second place. Their sponsor was Melissa Carr.
- Kallie Niday won first place in the Chemistry category with her project “The Effect of Methylene Chloride on the Amount of Caffeine Extracted.” Her sponsor was Melissa Carr.
- Eva Brown won second place, also in the Chemistry category, with “The Effectiveness of Different Sun Protection Factors on Blocking of Ultraviolet Radiation.” Melissa Carr was her sponsor, as well.
- Karli Stephenson won fourth place in the Chemistry category with “Analysis of Water Quality in Southwest Virginia via pH, Dissolved Oxygen, Nitrate, Temperature, and Mercury Levels.” Melissa Carr was her sponsor.
- The team of Addisyn St. Clair and Emma Kageals studied “The Effect of Concentration of Hydrochloric Acid and Temperature on the Dissolution Rate of Ibuprofen” in the Chemistry category. Melissa Carr was their sponsor.
- Hannah Janney and Raelyn Lancaster won first place in the Embedded Systems/Systems Software category for their project, “Effectiveness of Engineering a Circuit to Detect the Ripeness of Produce.” Ryan Adams was their sponsor.
- Blake Glover won first place in the Physics category at the high school level with his project, “A Sticky Situation: the Effects of Pine Tar on Travel Distance of a Baseball.” Melissa Carr was his sponsor.
- Brenin Witcher and Brayden Andrews won second place in the Physics category with “Helmet Safety Measured by Peak Linear Acceleration as Related to Concussion.” Melissa Carr was their sponsor.
- Hannah O’Brien won second place in the Translational Medical Sciences/Cellular and Molecular Biology/Microbiology category with her project, ‘The Effects of Chemotherapy on Differing Advanced Stages of Metastatic Breast Cancer.” Melissa Carr was her sponsor.
Meera Raichura won first place in the Plant Sciences category with her project “The Effects of Neodymium Magnets on Plant Growth and Germination,” which also won her first place last weekend at the Roanoke Valley Governor’s School Project Forum.” Steve Smith was her sponsor.
- Lacie Gibson presented her project, “The Effect of Calcium Chloride on the Growth of Raphanus Sativus” in the Plant Sciences category. Ryan Adams was her sponsor.
The 2023 RCPS Science Fair was sponsored by Southern Auto, Oakey’s, Blue Ridge Apothecary, Lawrence Perry & Associates Engineers, and the Roanoke County Public Schools Education Foundation, Inc. Bojangles’, Dunkin’ Donuts, Krispy Kreme, Vinton McDonald’s, and Starbucks made generous donations. Food was provided by the Northside High School Culinary Arts program.
Selected projects will advance to the regional science fair.