As social distancing puts telecommunications to the test for just about every facet of life, 13 Boothbay Region High School students participated in the Maine State Science Fair March 28. The event first slated for University of Maine’s Alfond Arena in Orono continued on schedule, entirely online.
Judges sifted through students’ abstracts and narrowed the field down to eight candidates in every category. Each candidate was granted a Zoom interview to present their projects to the judges of their contest. Of the 13 BRHS projects, nine were finalists and four students won awards.
Emma Markowitz took third place in microbiology; Isabel Harkins, first place in behavioral sciences (sociology and mental health); Kylie Brown, won the Maine Mathematics and Science Reach Award in behavioral sciences and Nathan Chatterton won the Office of Naval Research Award in engineering.
Principal Tricia Campbell said she could not be prouder of the work students and teachers put in for projects to succeed in the fair, including the efforts by Gifted and Talented teacher Emily Higgins, AP Language teacher Mark Gorey and science teacher Sherrie Hersom. “Emily has been an amazing coach and advisory for our students participating in this event collaborating with Mark and Sherrie to support and prepare students for the tough competition. We are a team and strong school family at BRHS.”
Hersom said she felt this year’s students did especially well considering a successful project often takes over a year of work including in-depth research, data analysis and communication development. “(Higgins and Gorey) are both exemplary educators who are dedicated to teaching and learning … Community support has played a part in the success of this endeavor. These types of successes are evidence that the teaching and learning that goes on in our school is preparing our students to be great researchers, problem-solvers, thinkers, and communicators.”
Besides being BRHS’s first year having multiple submissions, it was also the first year Gorey had students, 11 total, submitting their Champions of Change projects under the social sciences category. Seven of Gorey’s students were selected as finalists.
Said Gorey, “Initially I was skeptical as to how the two would mesh … As it turns out, most of my AP Language students' arguments are calling for changes in behavior; thus, their COC arguments fit nicely into the MSSF behavioral science category.”
Gorey said the Champions of Change project seems to have been extra rich for students as they navigated the expectations of the class, the requirements and working with him and Higgins and reaching out to other school systems for research.
“I'm extremely proud of the students' work, overall, and, of course, very pleased that four BRHS students won awards …”
Higgins said she was proud of the students for all the hard work put in and overall success at the fair. “They showed tremendous curiosity and dedication as they did their work in addition to all their other school work … The entire process was new to all of the students, and became more challenging as the fair went virtual using platforms new to the students. Great job!”
AP Language students who did not get to present to MSSF judges will share their projects at the next Community School District School Committee meeting via Zoom at 6 p.m. April 8.