by Taylor King
Twenty-one middle school and high school students from Carroll and Douglas counties recently competed in the 22nd annual West Georgia Regional Science and Engineering Fair (WGRSEF), but this year’s fair was unlike the program’s first 21 iterations, as it was hosted virtually.
“Students have been working on science or engineering projects for many months,” said Dr. Sharmistha Basu-Dutt, associate dean of the College of Arts, Culture, and Scientific Inquiry (CACSI), professor of chemistry and the director of WGRSEF. “This fair provides an opportunity for them to present their work to the scientific community and have it judged for planning, execution, presentation and creativity.”
Basu-Dutt, along with the steering team, pivoted to convert the event to virtual this year, and even though the social aspect of the fair was missing this year, students were able to engage with the judges and faculty during their presentations.
Students submitted their competition materials online and presented an exhibit and a summary video. They also had the option to submit a video presentation, a research paper or a lab notebook excerpt. The competition management software hosted 10-minute interviews between judges and students.
Professors from CACSI and the College of Education, educators from Carroll County Board of Education, and engineers from Southwire were all judges for this year’s fair.
This year’s projects ran the gamut in terms of creativity, with such exhibits as “Best Homemade Buttermilk,” “Cat Bed Experiment” and “Yeast on Cellular Respiration.” Six students won first place in the junior division, with eight winning first in the senior division.
Rebecca Scarbrough, an 11th-grader at Lithia Springs High School who earned Best in Show for the senior division, presented research on the arrangement of solar panels.
“I feel very happy and blessed to have won,” Scarbrough said. “My goal with this project was to find affordable ways to generate clean energy that will not harm the environment, and I’m thankful to have this opportunity to compete and raise awareness about my topic.”
Camille Scott, a seventh-grader at Chapel Hill Middle School in Douglasville, won Best in Show for the junior division. Her project, titled “Microplastic Madness,” focused on raising awareness to the issue of microplastics and microfibers in freshwater sources.
“I am just beyond excited,” Scott said shortly after her win. “I can’t wait to represent Chapel Hill Middle School and Douglas County at the state level. I’m glad to know that my project and research are making a difference.”
Top projects will move on to compete at the state level in March at the Georgia Science and Engineering Fair (GSEF), where top scorers will have a chance to participate in the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF).