(WACO) – Area middle school and high school students were awarded Wednesday morning for their creative efforts at the Central Texas Science and Engineering Fair at Texas State Technical College in Waco.
Students from schools in Brown, McLennan, Milam and Navarro counties received awards in junior and senior divisions at the event’s recognition ceremony. Students from 13 Central Texas counties entered more than 150 projects ranging from engineering to animal science for the 61st annual event.
“I felt we had a successful fair this year,” said Linda Morris, an adjunct instructor in TSTC’s Environmental Health and Safety and Radiation Protection Technology program and science fair co-chair. “This is where a student is able to take a personal interest and turn it into a project.”
Edward Kim, 17, a senior at Midway High School in Waco, and Neeraj Bhakta, 17, a junior at C.H. Yoe High School in Cameron, will represent the region at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in May in Los Angeles.
Kim is a repeat winner at the regional event and last year won in biochemistry at the international contest. Kim, a valedictorian of his senior class who plans to attend Harvard University this fall, said the contest’s research projects all start with the scientific method, then work down to students’ curiosity and actions.
“Every time it is very different and it is a new journey,” Kim said.
Bhakta, who wants to attend Texas A&M University, said his project, “The Reaction of Vegetation to Cultivation after Remaining Undisturbed for 15 Years,” was tied to his longtime appreciation for nature.
“I can name 315 species of plants,” he said.
Rebecca Kostroun, 14, a freshman at C.H. Yoe High School, was named an alternate to the international event.
The top three winners in the junior and senior division categories move on to the Texas Science and Engineering Fair in March in San Antonio.
Brooklyn Barrett, 15, a freshman at Live Oak Classical School in Waco, placed first in the microbiology contest in the senior division for high school students. Her project was on natural versus pharmaceutical antibiotics. She said she will work to improve her project before traveling to San Antonio.
“At the science fair, you get to talk to other people,” Barrett said. “There are not mean spirits here. Everyone worked hard on their projects.”
Dawson Bates, a senior at McGregor High School, received a $1,000 TSTC scholarship. Bates, a member of the high school’s tennis and robotics teams, wants to study computer programming. He said he was surprised to receive the recognition.
His science fair project was on how font sizes and types affect the size of text documents.
Bates’ science fair advisor, Debbie Singer, said participation for McGregor students was voluntary.
“McGregor is a small school,” she said. “The kids that are here are involved in everything. They did these projects independently. They chose the topics, but I wanted to drive them to something that interested them.”