Keys students earn awards at state science competition

Five entries by Keys students earned state recognition in the virtual State Science and Engineering Fair (SSEF).

Sebastian McCoy, from Key Largo School, placed third in the junior division for his “Lighting Up the Sky” experiment and received a nomination to Broadcom Masters Middle School Science Competition. Special award designations at the state level were earned by Robert Aleman of Key Largo School; the duo of Kevin Nguyen and Nathaniel Cabrera from Sigsbee Charter School; and the trio of Laira Gomer, Diana Diaz and Brook Barrow of Coral Shores High School. 

Eight projects were submitted for the state fair competition based on the results of the Monroe County School District’s (MCSD) Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fair held earlier this year. Participation at the fair included 189 students who submitted individual or team projects to be judged in the eighth annual showcase. The online judging platform used for this year’s virtual fairs created a shift in format of the traditional entry style.  Students had to create videos or slideshows to showcase their projects.

“Teachers and students took on the challenge of virtual participation and flourished,” said MCSD science coordinator Melissa Alsobrooks.  “They produced some of the best projects we have ever had and the judges were very impressed.”

Judges for the MCSD STEM fair were from Florida International University, the Dolphin Research Center, College of the Florida Key, National Weather Service, Reef Relief, Coral Restoration Foundation and Key West Botanical Garden.  Evaluation criteria included research methods and procedures, data analysis, and communication/presentation skills. The district STEM fair yielded three grand award winners at the elementary level, and four grand award winners in both the middle school and high school levels.  The grand award winners from middle and high school had the opportunity to enter the next level of competition after refining their projects and preparing them for state guidelines.

MCSD high school grand award winners:

Aidan Austin – Coral Shores High School. Topic: How did the Keys closing affect our oceans?
Ryann Castle – Coral Shores High School. Topic: The true definition of green buildings.
Nina Bowen – Key West High School. Topic: The effects of high concentrations of nitrates and phosphates in runoff.
Laira Gomer, Brooke Barrow, Diana Diaz – Coral Shores High School. Topic: Rockin’ Rocket experiments.

MCSD middle school grand award winners:

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Robert Aleman – Key Largo School. Topic: Does Bisphenol A leach into soil after being heated?
Sebastian Jeanpierre – Horace O’Bryant School. Topic: Which mask is the safest?
Sebastian McCoy – Key Largo School. Topic: Lighting up the sky
Nathanial Cabrera and Kevin Nguyen – Sigsbee Charter School. Topic:  Sound barriers.

MCSD elementary school grand award winners:

Alex Rudolph – Ocean Studies Charter School. Topic: Fertilizer in the ocean
Sawyer Hill – Poinciana Elementary Topic: Water rocket
Autumn Dawn Bodziak – Ocean Studies Charter School. Topic: Dissolving fish hooks

The full listing of science fair participants and projects, including the winners at the state and local level, is at keysschools.com

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