Record Turnout at 70th Maine State Science Fair

Young Scientists and Engineers Show Promise at 2016 Maine State Science Fair

Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance (MMSA) and The Jackson Laboratory (JAX) co-directed the 70th annual Maine State Science Fair, which was held on March 19, 2016 in Bangor. 155 students from 13 Maine high schools competed for 58 awards, including a chance to represent Maine at the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair (ISEF) in Phoenix this May.

Demetri Maxim of Gould Academy placed first overall for continuing his effort to bioengineer functional kidney tissue from stem cells isolated from human skin. Paige Brown of Bangor won second place for engineering a method to reduce phosphorus pollution entering streams via storm drains. Sydney McDonald, also of Bangor, rounded out the top three for her project in which she explored a more effective way to make artificial muscles.

Projects were grouped into eleven categories and spanned the entire STEM spectrum (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). In addition to top category awards, students competed for recognition from more than a dozen state and national organizations. Bringing home awards for the first time were

Science Fair participant demonstrates his project.

Dexter Regional High School, Lincoln Academy, R.W. Traip Academy and Washington Academy. Other awardees included students from Falmouth High School, Greely High School and The Watershed School.

Three award winners attend school in MMSA’s STEM Hubs. Alejandro Ramos Sanchez, an exchange student attending Lincoln Academy, won two awards for his project, Tanausú, which involved designing a Tesla valve to treat patients with a variety of blood disorders. Jason Millette of Dexter studied the most efficient way to cool computer equipment and Aubrey Sparrow of Washington Academy tested the accuracy of home blood pressure monitors to those in medical settings. All three students placed in the top three for their categories.

JAX and MMSA endeavored to expand the reach of the Maine State Science Fair this year, which led to a 15% increase in student participation and six new schools. MMSA’s newest recruitment effort, which began last fall, brought five Teacher Fellows and 32 students to the Maine State Science Fair.

The Teacher Fellows program is based on the ideal that “STEM coaches” should receive compensation akin to that for sports coaches. MMSA offered stipends for teachers to support students entering in the Science Fair for the first time. The program expanded the Maine State Science Fair’s geographic reach to bring in students from Brunswick, East Machias, Kittery, Presque Isle and the Dover-Foxcroft region. MMSA plans to continue the Teacher Fellows program and is accepting new applicants. Contact sburrell@mmsa.org to apply.

Another way MMSA and JAX are supporting new teachers is through a course being taught at the STEM Educator’s Camp this summer at Maine School of Science and Mathematics in Limestone. Geared toward middle school and high school teachers, the course aims to give teachers the tools and support needed to oversee students conducting independent science and engineering projects. The STEM Educators Camp takes place on August 8-12 and the cost for the week is $100. Visit www.mssm.org to apply.

The 2016 Maine State Science Fair was sponsored by the The Jackson Laboratory, Maine Mathematics & Science Alliance, Reny Charitable Foundation and Texas Instruments. For more information, visit www.maine-state-science-fair.org.

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