A judge for the 2013 Rockdale Regional Science and Engineering Fair asks Patrick Massie, a tenth-grade student at the Rockdale Magnet School for Science and Technology, about his project. Massie presented his project, Zero Emission Car: Air Compression System, during this year's fair. Staff Photos: Michelle Floyd
2013 Rockdale Regional Science and Engineering Fair Winners
2013 Junior Division Grand Champions
Laurel Holmes (Davis Middle School)
Sebastian Mosley and Noah Scott (DMS)
Trisha Adjmul (Conyers Middle School)
CJ Hardnett (Memorial Middle School)
Erin Hardnett and Aja Weary (MMS)
Madeline Burkey and Toni Elaine Norton (DMS)
Wesley Thomas (MMS)
Claire Bumgardner and McKenna Commiskey (CMS)
Selby McMahan (MMS)
Haley Holcombe (Edwards Middle School)
Najifa Hossain (EMS)
David Baros (CMS)
2013 Senior Division Grand Champion
Alex Arteaga and Summer Walker
Aaron Barron and Crystal Brockington
Chelse Steele and Larry Jacobs
Jasmine Johnson and Gabriel Vela
Ashley Driver and Alexis Nesbitt
CONYERS -- Nearly 200 students have spent the school year -- and some longer -- focusing on things like mold prevention, wrestling mat materials, oil drilling and robotics.
Rockdale County students presented their research on Friday at the Rockdale Magnet School for Science and Technology in a culminating event for some students, the Rockdale Regional Science and Engineering Fair.
"We had 170 students participating in the fair making it the largest RRSEF so far," said Amanda Baskett, co-director of the fair.
Students participated from all four middle schools and all three high schools, as well as the Magnet School.
"I'm very excited about the caliber of projects -- they are varied and in depth," said Andrea McMahan, principal of Memorial Middle School. "The students also are very articulate about their projects."
Baskett said that many of the students started brainstorming new project ideas or continuations immediately after last year's fair.
"Experimentation can take place anytime during the year, but most students experiment in the early fall so they are ready for the school fair in December," she said. "All students at RRSEF were chosen based on their performance at their school's science fair. Student project ideas can come from problems students encounter in daily life, topics in the news or current scientific research they read about in journals."
Sophomore Patrick Massie, a student at the Magnet School, said he has worked on his project, Zero Emission Car: Air Compression System, last school year and this year.
"I've always been interested in automobiles and engineering, so I thought mixing the two together would be an interesting project," he said.
Memorial Middle School eighth-grader Tzintzuni Martinez said she came up with her topic, To Drill or Not to Drill, on her own.
"I asked myself about everyday living and the challenges you face," she said. "(The project) is very time-consuming. You need to put your heart and soul into it, and it can be exciting."
On Friday, 78 judges evaluated the projects at the Magnet School for two hours and then interviewed students individually about their projects for another several hours.
"The judges are professional scientists and engineers from the community, as well as personnel from the county office and local schools who volunteer their time to give feedback to students," Baskett said.
More than 75 percent of the judges have past experience judging science fairs, she added.
"I'm personally inspired by these kids," said judge Tim Brown, a Rockdale County resident and vice president of membership for The Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association. "Their projects were so detailed and expressed with passion. It's exciting to see that with the youth."
An awards ceremony was held Friday evening, after judging.
Twelve middle school Grand Champion projects and and 26 high school Grand Champion will advance to the state science fair, which is scheduled for March 21-23 at the Classic Center in Athens.
The top six middle school projects were labeled the Broadcom Masters Winners; they included projects like Using a Digital Camera to Measure Skyglow and Robotics in Architecture. Those students will submit their papers to Broadcom for consideration of a national award.
Alex Arteaga and Summer Walker will advance to the International Sustainable World (Energy, Engineering & Environment) Project Olympiad in Houston, Texas, later this year with their project, Study of Devulcanization Technologies on Vulcanized Waste Rubber. Heeyoon Kim will advance to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair competition in Phoenix, Ariz., with the project, Applying Matrix Theory to Model Global Social Dynamics, as will Aqib Momin with the project, Computational Models of Stochasatic Recurrent ANN's, and the team of Ashley Driver and Alexis Nesbit with Establishing Sensitivity & Reliability of Microbial Forensics.
The Georgia State Science Fair coordinate recently ranked the 21 regional science and engineering fairs, ranking Rockdale's as the highest average score for high school projects and fifth highest average score for middle school projects. Rockdale County Public Schools held its own regional science and engineering fair for the third consecutive year after being told that the Northeast Georgia Regional Science and Engineering Fair no longer could accommodate the system a few years ago.