2023 Regional Science Fair

NCSS Students Win Big at Regional Science Fair/NCCA STEM Student to Compete in International Science Fair
Posted on 03/08/2023
Regional Science FairNewton County School System students brought home the hardware from the recent 2023 Griffin RESA Regional Science Fair with 40 students earning first, second, or third place awards! NCCA STEM Institute senior, Briana Jones, led the way with her first-place

project that also earned the highest honor possible for high school students—the Regeneron ISEF Award. As such, Briana will move on to compete and represent Newton County School System and our region at the Regeneron International Science & Engineering Fair (ISEF) in May!

According to Dr. Vicki Meeler, NCSS Secondary Science Curriculum & Instructional Specialist, while tens of millions of students participate in science fairs around the globe, only about 1,800 earn the right to compete for nearly $5 million awards at the ISEF. Briana was one of only three at the regional competition to win the all-expenses paid trip to the ISEF.

Although Briana put in countless hours working on her project, she was still stunned to win the award.

“I was baffled, completely shocked,” she said. “This project was just an idea I developed because of a small intrigue I had about algae blooms, and over the course of time it became something bigger and bigger. I struggled with it, and it went through so much trial and error, rescheduling, revamping and so on. Even though I put in so much work, I had never expected to make it this far.”

She added, “My ambition was a lot higher than my expectation, but neither reached what I actually achieved. I was proud of myself and my fellow peers for making it so far.”

While working on her project, entitled, “Algae Science: Analyzing Photosynthesis Rates of Agitated Vs. Still Algae,” Briana researched how movement impacts the growth of algae.

“I developed this project after looking into algae blooms which are harmful to the environment,” she explained. “Among the many factors that cause algae blooms, I wanted to know what physical factors affected them as well, which is why I wanted to know if agitation makes algae grow more or grow less so that we can further look into potential solutions to algae blooms. Through my research, I found that agitation actually makes algae grow more, and I've theorized that movement from runoff sites, from human interaction such as boats, and oceanic movement are a factor in algae blooms growing more.”

Even though the judges were thoroughly impressed with her project, awarding her both a 1st place award as well as the Regeneron ISEF award, Briana still plans some tweaks and updates to her project before she heads to the International Science and Engineering Fair.

“I know I will definitely be tweaking my poster board a bit, adding more pictures, maybe changing some descriptions, but it will be bigger and better than before,” she said. “I'm prepared to present my project anytime as I've done it a lot, and now I have the confidence of knowing that I can go very far, higher than my ambition can reach.”

In addition to Briana, several other NCSS high school students earned special awards for their projects. NCCA STEM Institute senior, Bethany McGowan placed first in her category and also took home both the U.S. Air Force Award and the Regeneron Biomedical Science Award. Najja McGee also earned multiple special awards for her first-place project, including the NASA Earth Systems Award, the NOAA Award, and the Association for Women Geoscientists Award. And Christopher Jones, Jocelyn Kilgore, Kendyl Maddox who placed first in their category, also brought home the Society for In Vitro Biology Award.

In the middle school competition, both Oliver Reid and Sabrina Stokes, of the Newton County Theme School, earned first place awards for their projects as well as the Thermo Fisher Scientific Award.

“The Thermo Fisher Scientific Award is the highest honor a middle school student can receive at the regional fair,” said Dr. Vicki Meeler. “RESA is allowed to choose three projects from the region to invite to the national science fair in Washington D.C. and our NCSS students earned two of the three! Oliver and Sabrina will now be in a pool of students from other Georgia RESA locations for the opportunity to compete in the national science fair.”

According to Dr. Meeler, all students who earned first place awards at the regional competition will now represent Newton County Schools in the Georgia Science and Engineering Fair in Athens, Georgia, March 30 - April 1, 2023.

See below for a complete listing of NCSS Awards Winners at the 2023 Griffin RESA Regional Science and Engineering Fair.

High School Results
Briana Jones   NCCA STEM Institute   12   Algae Science: Photosynthesis Rates   1st Place and Regeneron ISEF Award
Bethany McGowan   NCCA STEM Institute   12   Micro-Fuser: Compact Nuclear Energy Generator   1st Place; US Air Force Award; and Regeneron Biomedical Award
Najja McGee   NCCA STEM Institute   12   Comets Grazing the Sun   1st Place; NASA Earth Systems Award; NOAA Award; and Association for Women Geoscientists Award
Christopher Jones, Jocelyn Kilgore, & Kendyl Maddox    NCCA STEM Institute   12   You're Not the Bird You Think You Are!   1st Place 7 Society for In Vitro Biology Award
Kayla Archibald and Milo Baker   NCCA STEM Institute   12   Ultrasonic Transformation: Heat Shock and Bacterial Transformations   1st Place
Elisabeth Kelly, Rhin Eubanks, & Sara Grace Knowles   NCCA STEM Institute   12   Microscopic Gardeners: Brassica Hydroponics   1st Place
Dhakiya Knights & Chiara Chie   NCCA STEM Institute   12   Bia and the Body: Blinking and Political Stance   1st Place
Natalie Henderson   NCCA STEM Institute   12   Encrypting Data with MultiBase Arithmetic Systems   2nd Place
Nicholas Jean & Jade Neal   NCCA STEM Institute   12   Formation of an RFID Chip/Safety During Car Rider Dismissal   2nd Place
Nathan Walsh   NCCA STEM Institute   12   Silica Sol-gel Beads as Glucose Biosensors   2nd Place
Kaitlyn Williams & Alana Munoz   Alcovy High School   10   The Best Antacid for Heartburn   2nd Place
Gabriella Green
NCCA STEM Institute   12   Investigating Hormonal Contraceptives Effect on Tear Proteins   2nd Place
Chantel Boney & Jasmine Crouch   NCCA STEM Institute   12   A New Generation of Pollutants: Microplastics in Local Watersheds   3rd Place
Noah Larson & Noah Geiger   NCCA STEM Institute   12   Shooting for the Goal   3rd Place
Justin Doepke & Cole Shannon   NCCA STEM Institute   12   Improving the Ergonomics of a Prosthetic Leg   3rd Place
Jasmin Spillers, Brielle Henderson, & Madelyn Stroy   Newton High School   10   Glow Sticks in Different Water Temperatures   3rd Place

Our middle school student also brought home numerous awards from their regional competition.

Middle School Results
Oliver Reid   Newton County Theme School   7   Determining the Effectiveness of Traffic Calming Signs   1st Place & Thermo Fisher Scientific Award
Sabrina Stokes   Newton County Theme School   6   Which Brand of Nail Polish Fries Fastest   1st Place & Thermo Fisher Scientific Award
Jamaya Davis   Indian Creek Middle School   8   Investigating Cheer Sounds   1st Place
Caroline Meeler & Carolyn Paulus   Indian Creek Middle School   8   Bioluminescence in Phytoplankton    2nd Place
Kayden O'Cain   Newton County Theme School   6   Staining EGG-speriment   3rd Place
Alexander Ehret   Newton County Theme School   8   What is the Best Way to Purify River Water   3rd Place
Jimmy Thomas   Indian Creek Middle School   8   Ripening Tomatoes   3rd Place
Sophia Maxey   Indian Creek Middle School   6   Apples and the Five Juices   3rd Place
Rylan Yeager   Indian Creek Middle School   6   The Pavlovian Response   3rd Place
Adriana Drain   Indian Creek Middle School   8   Impact of Heat on Hydrogen Bonds   3rd Place

“Each year our Science Fair Competition has grown not only in number but also in complexity,” said Shundreia Neely, Director of Secondary Education for Newton County School System. “The depth of our students’ work has grown immensely. I contribute this to the work of science teachers, administrators, Science Fair judges, and our Science Instructional Specialist, Dr. Vicki Meeler. Each person provided a level of support and feedback to these students that have allowed our school system to earn so many first-place winners and even an ISEF participant. We know this is not by chance. This is due to students’ hard work, parent support, and teacher guidance. I am so proud of each of them. I am excited to see the outcome of the next round of competitions.”