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26 Rockdale students earn honors at state science fair

Junior Sonam Brahmbhatt, a student at the Rockdale Magnet School for Science and Technology, was selected to compete at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair for her project, Hypoxia Induced Effects on Chondrocyte Phenotype. The fair will be held in May in Pheonix, Ariz.

Junior Sonam Brahmbhatt, a student at the Rockdale Magnet School for Science and Technology, was selected to compete at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair for her project, Hypoxia Induced Effects on Chondrocyte Phenotype. The fair will be held in May in Pheonix, Ariz.

CONYERS -- Nine Rockdale County students took first-place honors at the 2013 Georgia Science and Engineering Fair state finals last week, and 17 other took other top honors.

More than 800 middle-school and high-school finalists from around the state competed in 17 categories at the 65th annual event. The best of the regional winners are considered for advancement to the state fair, which was held Thursday through Saturday at the Classic Center in Athens.

"We were very impressed with both the caliber of research the students presented at the fair this year and the maturity and poise with which they conducted their interviews," said state fair co-director Laura Brewer.

Rockdale County Public Schools held its own regional fair in February, where nearly 200 middle and high school students competed. Twelve middle school Grand Champion projects and 26 high school Grand Champions advanced to the state fair.

At the high school level, six students from the Rockdale Magnet School for Science and Technology placed first, or in the top 10 percent, in the senior division at the state fair. Six Magnet School students also placed second, or in the top 25 percent.

At the middle school level, three students placed first in the junior division, nine placed third and two placed fourth. Students at all four middle schools participated in the state fair.

"All of the students did a great job representing Rockdale County at the state level. I have never seen a group of students so energized after judging as the students were on Friday," said Amanda Baskett, co-director of the Rockdale County science and engineering fair. "They were prepared to communicate their complex scientific research projects to the judges and clearly did a great job as so many were recognized with awards."

Magnet School junior Sonam Brahmbhatt was one of four students from the state fair to be selected to compete at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Phoenix, Ariz., in May for her project, Hypoxia Induced Effects on Chondrocyte Phenotype. She will join Magnet students Ashley Driver, Alexis Nesbitt and Heeyoon Kim, all seniors, and Aqib Momin, a junior, for the international competition, as they all won spots from their participation in the Rockdale regional fair earlier this year.

A team project with Magnet students Chelse Steele, a junior, and Larry Jacobs, a sophomore, was selected as student observers at ISEF, so they also will travel with the state delegation.

"I am excited to see what happens at ISEF this year, as the students attending have very strong and diverse projects," Baskett said.

Brahmbhatt also was recognized as having one of the top 10 projects in the entire fair.

"We also had one junior project and four senior division projects picked as Best in Category, which is a high honor," Baskett said.

Other highlights include Momin being one of two students to win a $1,000 per year scholarship to the University of Georgia in recognition of his research work on Computational Models of Stochasatic Recurrent ANN's.