SWS Sponsors Youth Science Fair Awards

By Jessica Southard Pardo, Communications Specialist, Soil and Water Sciences Department 

On Tuesday, January 31st, 2017, the Soil and Water Sciences Department presented three awards at the Alachua Region Science and Engineering Fair Awards Ceremony, held at the Lincoln Middle School Auditorium. SWS graduate students, Katie McCurley and Josh Papacek, presented the SWS awards to the students, which were signed by our Departmental Chair, Dr. Ramesh Reddy.

SWS Award Winners Sophia Shah, Hannah Palka, and Benjamin Hahn, accepting their awards on stage at the Alachua Region Science and Engineering Fair.

Benjamin Hahn of Ft. Clarke Middle School was presented with the first place award in Earth and Environmental Sciences, Junior Division. His project was entitled Air Potato Leaf Beetles: Annihilating the Perpetater. Sophia Shah and Hannah Palka, both of Oak View Middle School, were presented with the first place award in Plant Sciences, Junior Division, with their group project entitled How Does the Concentration of Glycerin Affect the Decomposition of Organic Materials. Sidhika Balachandar of Buchholz High School was presented with the first place award in the senior division competition for Earth and Environmental Sciences. His project was entitled Novel Graphene Oxide Based Technology for Ultraefficient Nanofiltration.

Peter Nkedi-Kizza, SWS Professor of Soil Physics and Hydrology, began the collaboration between the Soil and Water Sciences Department and the Alachua Region Science and Engineering Fair in 2006. That year, the student winners of the departmental awards were invited to present their projects at a departmental seminar on March 27th, giving them the opportunity for feedback before going on to the state competition. The Department has continued to sponsor awards since then, inspiring local youth to pursue their interests in soil and water sciences. The awards which the Department sponsors vary each year, but are always affiliated with soil, water, and environmental sciences. SWS faculty and graduate students often volunteer their time prior to the event to help local participants prepare their projects. Students and faculty have also served as judges at local school science fairs and have judged the regional competition.

All of the winners of the SWS sponsored awards will go on to the state science fair which will be held March 28-30th in Lakeland, Florida.