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NHS Hosts Southern Connecticut Science And Engineering Fair

Newtown High School hosted the 14th Annual Southern Connecticut Science & Engineering Fair on Saturday, February 8.

According to a release for the event, more than 600 students, judges, volunteers, and community members attended the fair this year.

During the event completed projects and research proposals were presented and judged in the school’s gymnasium, and a presentation in the school’s auditorium included an address by David Pogue — former technology columnist for The New York Times and now leading the expansion of tech coverage at Yahoo!, and host of NOVA ScienceNow and other science shows on PBS — and the announcement of this year’s Paul Heilman Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service, which was awarded to Nancy Yates, a former member of the Southern Connecticut Science & Engineering Fair board of directors who served as the fair’s director for five years.

Connecticut Representatives Mitch Bolinsky, Tony Hwang. and Jonathan Steinberg also spoke to the crowd, and congratulated the participants for their contributions to science and the future competitiveness of the state.

According to the Southern Connecticut Science & Engineering Foundation, each student participant in the fair was required to create an exhibit, make a presentation, and participate in a question-and-answer session. Volunteer judges evaluated entries, both completed projects and research proposals, in four categories: behavioral sciences, environmental sciences, health sciences, and physical sciences. Team projects were also submitted in the categories, according to the foundation.

“The students and their projects were truly impressive,” said Paul Oestreicher, Southern Connecticut Science & Engineering Foundation president in the release. “And equally impressive was the collective enthusiasm of the students. It was wonderful to observe the passion for their work and hear the students cheer for each other during the awards ceremony.”

The Southern Connecticut Science & Engineering Fair was started in 2001, according to the foundation, with eight students from one school and has seen rapid growth. More information about the fair is available at www.scsef.org.

NHS student Christopher Gamble tied for second place with two other students in the “Research Proposal, Physical Science” category for his project on “boiling water the easy way,” according to the foundation.

Assistant Superintendent of Schools Linda Gejda and NHS teacher Time DeJulio also said they felt the fair was well attended.

Dr Gejda said the NHS science department and the school’s administration were excited to host the fair this year.

Mr DeJulio serves on the board for the fair, and said one of his favorite parts of the event was witnessing his students walk into the fair nervous and finish the fair with marked excitement, demonstrating a level of comfort.

While Mr DeJulio said ten NHS students participated in the fair, he also estimated between 50 and 60 NHS students attended the event. As NHS’s Applied Science Research Course teacher, Mr DeJulio oversees students over the course of three years on a research project. Through the program, students earn credit for the University at Albany, State University of New York (SUNY), with Mr DeJulio acting as an adjunct professor of the university.

According to Dr Gejda, this is the second full year NHS has offered the Applied Science Research Course.

One highlight of the fair for Dr Gejda was witnessing the level of maturity of the students involved.

“I was really impressed with the level of confidence and maturity that I saw among all of the participants,” Dr Gejda said.

Dr Gejda also noted there were the same number of judges for the fair as their were the number of students participating, which she said marked the consideration for the next generation of scientists.

“That was the thing that amazed me, particularly with the board members of this organization,” Dr Gejda said, explaining that members of the foundation come from all disciplines within the areas of science and engineering but all came together to support students.

Mr DeJulio said he enjoys working with his fellow fair board members. He also said it is likely Newtown will host the fair again, as the fair tends to be hosted in the same school for two years in a row.

Many people in the school district went out of their way to make the fair possible, Dr Gejda said.

“They gave their support,” the assistant superintendent said. “It was a team effort.”

Mr DeJulio said overall he feels the fair went “really, really well.”

“I think overall the students had a really great time,” he said, adding he heard judges say it was the most attended fair yet.

Completed projects and research proposals were presented by students from Amity Regional High School in Woodbridge, Convent of the Sacred Heart in Greenwich, Darien High School, Fairfield Ludlowe High School, Fairfield Warde High School, Glastonbury High School, Greens Farms Academy in Westport, Joel Barlow High School, Newtown High School, Ridgefield High School, and Staples High School in Westport, according to the Southern Connecticut Science & Engineering Foundation.

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