CENTRAL, S.C. – Nearly 200 elementary, middle, and high school students from six Upstate counties put their scientific problem-solving skills on display at the 2018 South Carolina Region 1 Science Fair at Southern Wesleyan University in Central.
For the eleventh year, Southern Wesleyan’s Division of Science partnered with area teachers and parents to promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education, in keeping with its core value of “contagious generosity.”
The 2018 South Carolina Region 1 Science Fair was presented by Piedmont Natural Gas and Ortec Inc.. Additional financial support was provided by Shaw Industries and ServPro of Pickens County. Judging the competition were volunteers from Southern Wesleyan, as well as from Clemson University, Hill Electric Company, Ortec Inc. and Duke Energy.
Members of SWU’s Science Club also conducted breakout sessions for participating students, giving demonstrations of various science concepts, which included chemistry, biology and computer science.
According to Staci Johnson, Southern Wesleyan University professor and event organizer, this year’s science fair grew significantly from a previous record of 110 students to 194 students this year.
“We are very excited about the growth in student participation in this year’s fair. Our desire in hosting the SC Region 1 Science Fair is to reward and encourage problem solving and critical thinking of students. These skills are essential to prepare the next generation of STEM professionals.”
The exhibits represented a variety of disciplines ranging from biology to physics to engineering – exploring what affects the ripening of fruit, or even how to make an emergency charger to rescue a dying phone battery.
Samuel Goodroe, a homeschool student from Seneca, presented his findings after studying the bouncing characteristics of three brands of basketballs inflated equally and dropped from an equal height.
“It’s a great opportunity and it’s fun to come out and test what you know against other public schoolers to see how you compare,” Goodroe said.
As Hank McCullough, senior manager of government and community relations at Piedmont Natural Gas, viewed competition exhibits and talked with several of the students about their projects, he came away impressed by the work they put into their research.
“I’m really inspired by their creativity and ingenuity. They’ve really laid out their hypothesis and they developed a process to test that,” McCullough said. “It’s just amazing to see what young people can do if you give them the opportunity and you encourage them to go in that direction.”
“I think it’s a great experience for them to meet other students interested in science and STEM science from all over our state, and it’s a great opportunity for them to meet other college students and professors, and for them to practice their presentation skills and to excel in science themselves,” said Laura Land, who brought her fourth- and fifth-graders from Northside Elementary School to the competition.
During an awards ceremony at the event’s conclusion, Colleen Hydrick, plant manager at Shaw Industries, told science fair participants gathered in Newton Hobson auditorium, “I want to keep encouraging your curiosity. Every one of you that entered were curious about a question that you wanted answered, something you wanted to learn more about. Keep being curious. The science fair has probably taught you how to then think about that and come up with a solution and study it in a logical, scientific method and then make a data-driven decision. I can tell you that in our business, it’s important every day to make data-driven decisions.”
The top nine middle school projects are being nominated to the Broadcom MASTERS (Math, Applied Science, Technology and Engineering for Rising Stars) program, which is the nation’s premier science fair competition for students in grades six through eight. Finalists in this program will travel to Washington, D.C. to compete for more than $100,000 worth of prizes.
Planning is already underway for the 2019 South Carolina Region 1 Science Fair to be held on Friday, March 8, 2019 on the Central campus. In addition to currently offered awards and recognitions, winners of the High School Division at the 2019 SC Region 1 Science Fair will, for the first time, be eligible to move on to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.
All students in South Carolina Region 1, which includes Abbeville, Anderson, Greenville, Greenwood, Laurens, Oconee, and Pickens counties, are invited to participate. Please visit our website (www.swu.edu/sciencefair) or contact Staci Johnson, Director at (864) 644-5256 or firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about entering student projects, volunteering at the fair, or lending your financial support to the event.
Please go to http://www.swu.edu/article/2018-sc-region-1-science-fair/ for the complete list of 2018 South Carolina Region 1 Science Fair winners.