During last month’s Gwinnett Science, Engineering + Innovation Fair, the Infinite Energy Center was brimming over with thoroughly researched projects— 481 projects from 730 students, to be exact— and the excitement was contagious!
“Many students were interested in how to solve a problem or create a better future through their project,” says Jessica Holden, the district’s science director for middle and high school.
At the elementary level, 79 projects were featured in the Elementary Showcase, while 215 middle school projects and 187 high school projects competed in the regional Fair. The biggest project categories this year were Chemistry, Engineering Mechanics, Plant Sciences, and Materials Science, according to Mrs. Holden. A number of middle school projects focused on topics in the areas of alternative energy sources, app development, and resource conservation or improvement, while many high school projects focused on coding/machine learning, developing biodegradable alternatives to plastic, and engineering solutions to medical-, environmental-, and energy-related problems.
“Several projects were continuations on successful research from last year,” adds Mrs. Holden, “showing that students are reflecting on their work, re-designing or furthering the scope of their research, and developing deeper, more innovative approaches to their topic.”
Top projects explored a range of topics, including acid rain, electricity-generating roads, and “the skinny” on moisturizer in the middle school competition. Among the high school projects, top projects addressed The Intelligent Medical Stapler, Alternative Tessellation and Inner Cone Design for Helmets, and MSC Assessment Using Image-Based Deep Learning Algorithm. Mrs. Holden says projects with real-world applications were well-received, with judges noting students’ ability to effectively communicate their project topics and an increase in the use of mathematics and data in student projects.
This year’s Fair included STEM activity stations indoors, a concession to rainy weather. A college fair for the high school students included more than 50 colleges and universities.
The Innovation in Action "Shark Tank" style competition drew a record number of submissions. In the event, a panel of community experts in business, innovation, science, and engineering evaluated pitches from seven groups and selected the top three projects. Winning projects will receive seed money and support to further their product development. “The panel of judges for this competition was extremely complimentary of the students’ innovative ideas, business sense, and ability to sell their projects as products,” notes Mrs. Holden.
Looking ahead, 20 middle school projects and 30 high school projects advance to the Georgia Science and Engineering Fair, set for March 28-30 in Athens. Three high school projects will compete in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Phoenix in May.
Check out this GCPS TV video to experience the Gwinnett Science, Engineering + Innovation Fair.