By Debbie Adams
Roanoke County Public Schools held their 66th annual Science Fair on February 22 at William Byrd Middle School.
“The Roanoke County Science Fair brings together the best student projects from Roanoke County’s eleven secondary schools and the Roanoke Valley Governor’s School,” said organizers.
The first Roanoke County Science Fair was held on February 19, 1955, at what was then known as William Byrd Senior High. The fair has always been held at a William Byrd school in the years since— either high, middle, or junior.
This year there were 109 exhibits, one of the largest science fairs held since 1955. Some projects were completed by individual students; others were done by teams of students.
Categories in 2020 in the middle school category included Animal Sciences/Plant Sciences, Biomedical and Health Sciences/Biomedical Engineering/Biochemistry/Microbiology; Chemistry; Earth and Environmental Sciences; Energy: Chemical/Energy: Physical/Environmental Engineering; Materials Science; and Physics and Astronomy/Engineering Mechanics.
High school categories included Animal Sciences/ Microbiology; Behavioral and Social Sciences/Materials Science/Systems Software; Biochemistry/Plant Sciences/Computational Biology and Bioinformatics; Biomedical and Health Sciences; Chemistry; Earth and Environmental Sciences; Earth and Environmental Sciences/Environmental Engineering; Energy: Chemical/Energy: Physical/Physics and Astronomy; Engineering Mechanics; and Materials Science.
Entrants set up their projects at 8:30 a.m. Judging began at 9 a.m. Students returned to the project area during the morning when called by the judges for conferences. The project area was opened to the public at noon, followed by an awards ceremony in the auditorium.
Students and guests were welcomed by RCPS Superintendent Dr. Ken Nicely, who thanked students for “taking the time to do science” beyond their classroom instruction and their parents for supporting them.
About 60 judges assisted with this year’s Science Fair. They included instructors from Roanoke County Schools and representatives from Virginia Tech, Virginia Western, Ferrum College, Carilion Clinic, G.J. Hopkins Inc., TMEIC Corporation, AECOM, GE Renewable Energy, the Virginia Department of Forestry, the Western Virginia Water Authority, and more.
Erin Barnett, Supervisor of Science for RCPS, facilitated the event. Melissa Carr is the Science Department Chair at WBHS; Kristi Warf serves as Science Department Chair at WBMS.
William Byrd Middle School students participating were:
- Joshua Allen (first place winner) with “Alternative Ways of Making Paper Instead of Using Trees” in the Animal Sciences/Plant Sciences division. Sponsor Heather Hall.
- Mallory Peroulas (third place winner) with “Save the Apples” in the Chemistry division. Sponsor Kim Sarver.
- Hunter Butterworth with “Disc Golf Science” in the Energy: Chemical/Energy: Physical/Environmental Engineering division. Sponsor Jessica Kingery.
- Lily Carrell (first place winner) with “The Test for Mess” in the Materials Science division. Sponsor Kim Sarver.
- Sydney Blewett with “The Effects of Different Stains on White Softball Pants” in the Materials Science division. Sponsor Scott Kelley.
- Spencer Peters (fourth place) with “Iced Out” in the Materials Science division. Sponsor Erin O’Donnell.
- Christian Barrette with “Which fishing line brand is strongest?” in the Materials Science division. Sponsor Erin O’Donnell.
William Byrd High School participants were:
- Maggie Parkhurst and Rebecca Qiu (third place winners) with “The Effect of Taurine on the Heart Rate of Daphnia Magna” in the Animal Sciences/Microbiology division. Parkhurst and Qiu tied for first place with their project in the 2020 Project Forum at the Roanoke Valley Governor’s School which they both attend. Sponsor Donald Wages
- Erin Wienke and Cole Blanton (from Hidden Valley High School) (second place) with “The Analysis of Curcumin in Preventing Ultraviolet Radiation Damage to DNA of E. coli” in the Animal Sciences/Microbiology division. Wienke and Blanton tied for second place with their project at the RVGS 2020 Project Forum. Sponsor Melissa Fisher.
- Carlee Hutchens and Timber Raines with “Bacterial Growth in Expired Make-up” in the Animal Sciences/Microbiology division. Sponsor Melissa Carr.
- Reagan Dillard (second place) with “Which Type of Music Helps Studying Best?” in the Behavioral Sciences/Materials Science/System Software division. Sponsor Ashton Eubank.
- Sarah Kushman with “Minecraft Soul Sand Battle Royale” in the Behavioral Sciences/Materials Science/System Software division. Sponsor Auston Eubank.
- Tyler Buxton and Keaton Band (third place) with “Effect of Energy Drinks on Adolescents’ Heart Rates” in the Biomedical and Health Sciences division. Sponsor Melissa Carr.
- Victoria Johnson and Kristianna Fitzgerald with “Blissful Bath Bomb Project” in the Biomedical and Health Sciences division. Sponsor Chris Rupe.
- Charlotte Rose (second place) with “The Effect of Various Ethylene Glycol Concentrations on Visible Light Absorbancy” in the Chemistry division. Sponsor Melissa Carr.
- Emiliano Gonzalez (first place winner) with “The Effect of pH on the Cyclic Life of Electrochromic Prussian Blue Thin Films” in the Chemistry division. Sponsor Melissa Carr.
- Bailey Warren with “The Accuracy of a Made-at-Home pH Scale” in the Chemistry division. Sponsor Chris Rupe.
- Stella Taylor and Darion Coleman (fourth place) with “Which Coagulent is Most Effective on One Source Water?” in the Earth and Environmental Sciences division. Sponsor Melissa Carr.
- Carsyn Kotz with “Firenado: Investigating the Effect of Wind Speed on Flame Height” in the Earth and Environmental Sciences division. Sponsor Chris Rupe.
- Ellie Panko with “The Effect of Frequency on Note Vibrations” in the Energy: Chemical/Energy: Physical/Physics and Astronomy division. Ashton Eubank.
- Brandon Clark (second place) with “Neodymium Magnet Train” in the Energy: Chemical/Energy: Physical/Physics and Astronomy division. Sponsor Ashton Eubank.
- Bethany Beecher with “The Effects of Various Temperatures on a Battery’s Charge” in the Energy: Chemical/Energy: Physical/Physics and Astronomy division. Sponsor Ashton Eubank.
- Sifti Panesar and Esther Kim (third place) with “Generating Electricity Using Soil” in the Energy: Chemical/Energy: Physical/Physics and Astronomy division. Sponsor Caitlin Pannell.
- McKenna Paradis and Jonathan Farmer with “The Effect of Location on the Viscosity of Honey” in the Materials Science division. Sponsor Ashton Eubank.
Selected projects from the high school and middle school divisions will represent Roanoke County in the annual Western Virginia Regional Science Fair on Saturday, March 21, at Hollins University. That includes first and second place winners among middle schoolers, and first, second, and third place winners among high school students.
At the end of the awards assembly, one name was drawn from among the first-place winners for a “Tornado Pass” to the Science Museum of Western Virginia. The pass allows free admission for one year to the museum. The winner was Emiliano Gonzalez of WBHS.
Sponsors for this year’s Science Fair included First Team Auto on the Platinum Level; Environmental Options, G.J. Hopkins, and Wetland Studies and Solutions, Inc., on the Gold Level; and Steven Silcott from RE/Max Real Estate One and Hart Kia on the Silver Level.
The Vinton Famous Anthony’s was the catering sponsor. Prize sponsors included Mill Mountain Zoo, Lee Hi Lanes, Skate Center of Roanoke, the Vinton McDonald’s, Hanging Rock Golf Club, the Science Museum of Western Virginia, the Salem Red Sox, the G Bees Glenvar High School Science Club, and Hollywood’s Restaurant and Bakery.