Moore Students Among Winners at Science Fair
Andrew Lomax, a freshman at East Bladen High School, was the grand prize winner at the Region IV Science Fair Saturday, Feb. 23, at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.
The 26th annual Science Fair was sponsored by Progress Energy with additional prizes provided by McDonald's Restaurants, Lumbee River Electric Membership Cooperative, U.S. Navy, N.C. State University and UNCP.
Moore County winners included Tyler Prince of Academy Heights Elementary Schoool, who will advance to state competition in the elementary division; Michael Frazer of West Pine Middle, fourth place in junior biology; Callie Boone and Abigail Snyder of West Pine Middle, fourth place in junior earth science; Olivia Hernandez of West Pine Middle, fourth in junior technology and engineering; Casandra Hadad of Union Pines High School, in first place in senior physical science and for a Senior U.S. Navy Award.
Lomax topped all entrants with his project on "Bioremediation: Fast, Cheap and Effective." He won a scholarship to UNCP for $1,000.
"My project is about cleaning up animal life and the environment after a toxic spill," Lomax said. "I used microorganisms and it really works."
As nervous parents paced in the lobby outside the gym in the English E. Jones Athletic Center, Lomax and 200 contestants and their projects were put to the test in interviews with judges from UNCP and Fayetteville State University.
It can be an unnerving process, admitted Marcus Pierce of West Bladen High School.
"I was really nervous to be in front of important people like that," Pierce said. "They were really tough."
Charlotte Tatum who, with her West Bladen teammate, Courtney Hudson, worked more than a year on their project testing the effects of music on tomato plants. She said she was well prepared.
"We do a lot of communications activities in my club (Future Farmers of America)," Tatum said. "I have to give a big speech to about 400 people next month."
The judges offered scientific advice too, said Hillary Gunter, who with West Bladen teammate McKenzie Winebarger, entered a project called "Breaking Loose the Juice."
"The judges asked us about our procedure and why we chose the subject," Gunter said. "They suggested how we could have taken the project further."
Co-coordinators of the 2008 Science Fair were UNCP science professors Drs. Tim Ritter and Jose D'Arruda, who founded the Science Fair at UNCP in 1982. D'Arruda offered advice to the contestants.
"If you did not win today, it's not a problem -- work harder," he said. "Some of the best projects are developed over several years."
Science Fair projects evolve with current events in science. Topics this year included carbon footprints, water desalination, wind turbines, honey bees and polluted air inside school buses.
"Doing scientific research in this way is good for students in more ways than one," said D'Arruda. "These are the things that the best colleges look for in their applicants."?
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