INDIAN RIVER COUNTY – Hundreds of students spent countless hours over the last six weeks developing hypotheses, formulating problems and testing their theories.
The results of their scientific endeavors went on display Saturday during the 19th annual regional Science Fair.
“The kids are so enthusiastic,” Judge Linda Beardslee said of reviewing the elementary school students’ projects. “They want to let you know what they learned.”
For the last seven years, Beardslee has been a judge at the annual science fair – and every years she learns a little something new.
This year, she judged projects ranging from acid rain to shapes influencing sound.
“It’s always fun,” Beardslee said.
Eighteen elementary schools, including private schools, submitted 181 projects. The majority of the schools put 14 projects up against the rest of the school district in the competition.
In the upper level of the science fair, 13 middle and high schools competed in 13 scientific categories.
The most popular category for submissions this year appeared to be Chemistry, which had 43 entries. The second-most popular category was Physics and Astronomy with 36 entries.
“This is one of the best groups I’ve seen,” Pat Hiser, from the Education Foundation of Indian River County, told the upper level students just before judging came to an end. He complimented them on hanging in for a few more minutes after having to endure about three hours of judging.
“There are some good projects,” Hiser said. “We usually have some high-quality projects every year.”
Tyler Botts, of Gifford Middle – the host school for this year’s competition – continued his science fair project from the year before, further studying the cause and effects of citrus greening.
He said his project revealed that the infected citrus plant’s vessels were clogged with a “ground positive” organism. Botts explained that most infections come from “ground negative” organisms.
Another competitor, Rachel Jarvis of Master’s Academy, also built on her project from last year.
Called “Fat Chance,” Jarvis’s project consisted of testing the ability of fat-soluble vitamins to dissolve. The four vitamins she selected were A, D, E and K. Replicating the stomach acids and conditions, Jarvis discovered the Vitamin E dissolved the fastest – 9 minutes 50 seconds.
“It wasn’t really a surprise,” Jarvis said, explaining that Vitamin E is essential for the breaking down fatty acids, so her hypothesis that the vitamin would dissolve the quickest was correct.
Vitamin A, she learned, was the slowest to dissolve, taking nearly a full hour.
“I’m interested in health,” she said, adding that she’s considering a career in veterinary services.
With this year’s science fair project complete, she’s already looking to next year, she said – studying the toxicity of vitamins.
Of note about this year’s science fair, Gifford Middle School had the most number of entries – 57 – followed closely by Storm Grove Middle with 54. And while Chemistry had the most entries in its category, Computer Science had the least – two.
The Elementary Awards Ceremony for the 19th Annual Regional Science Fair will be held Sunday, Jan. 30 at 2 p.m. at the Sebastian River High Performing Arts Center.
The Secondary Awards Ceremony – for the middle and high schools – will be held Feb. 3 at 6 p.m. at the Vero Beach High Performing Arts Center.
Regional Science Fair Fast Facts
No. Elementary School Projects: 181
No. Elementary Schools: 18
No. Junior-Senior Division Categories: 13
-Most Entries: 43 – Chemistry
-Least Entries: 2 – Computer Science
-Avg. (median) Entries: 19 entries per category
No. Junior-Senior Division Projects: 247
No. Middle, High, Charter Schools: 13
No. Projects per School:
-Most: 57 – Gifford Middle School
-2nd Most: 54 – Storm Grove Middle School
-Avg. (mean): 19 projects per school