Students Show Innovation in Virtual State Science and Technology Fair of Iowa


April 28, 2020, 12:01 pm | Sara Nelson, Nate Weber

State Science and Technolgy Fair of Iowa montage.AMES, Iowa – This year, more than 100 senior high students from around the state showcased their innovative spirit as they competed for prizes, awards and scholarships during the virtual State Science and Technology Fair of Iowa. They presented original research on a variety of science and engineering topics.

Typically, the fair is held in late March at Iowa State University. However, in response to COVID-19, the fair moved to an online platform for senior high youth a few weeks before the scheduled in-person fair. This gave student researchers the opportunity to still showcase their research, which many of them had worked on for more than a year.

“Students took up the challenge to quickly prepare for a virtual fair and shift their presentations online. We are so pleased with the number of participants and the high quality of their research. As our tagline states, these are students who can and will #changetheworld," said Sara Nelson, Iowa 4-H state STEM specialist and SSTFI chair.

The research experience is core to the mission of SSTFI and allows students to gain critical scientific skills needed for postsecondary work. Through participation in SSTFI, students learn about science and engineering processes, problem solving and the importance of being able to communicate and defend those findings to others. To compete, participants are asked to prepare a research poster detailing their findings and the data collected.

The State Science and Technology Fair of Iowa is in its 63rd year. The 2020 virtual fair saw 27 schools compete for prizes, awards and scholarships valued at over $20,000. A select winner will also be invited to attend the International BioGENEius Challenge later this year.

“We are thrilled we were able to offer this virtual experience when many other states had to cancel their fairs all together, but are looking forward to next year when the fair will be held in-person on March 25-26, 2021,” said Nate Weber, Iowa 4-H STEM program coordinator and SSTFI director. “The projects this year were extremely innovative. I was very impressed with the quality of the research presented and the dedication it takes to complete a project of this scope.”

Iowa 4-H Youth Development is proud to host the SSTFI and these amazing youth scientists,” Nelson said.

The following scholarships and awards were granted.

Iowa Biotech: Five $2,000 Scholarships

  • Dasia Taylor, West Senior High School, Biomedical and Health Sciences.
  • Kayla Livesay, Van Buren High School, Earth and Environmental Sciences.
  • Sean Kluesner, Beckman Catholic High School, Engineering.
  • Shreya Khullar, West Senior High School, Earth and Environmental Sciences.
  • Meena Ramadugu, John F. Kennedy High School, Biomedical and Health Sciences – also BioGENEius winner.

Alliant Energy $1,000 Scholarship

  • Rebecca Pilcher, Van Buren High School, Energy and Transportation.

Iowa Space Grant Consortium $5,000 Scholarship

  • Rebecca Pilcher, Van Buren High School, Energy and Transportation.

SSTFI Awards Sponsored by Bayer $3,300 Total Scholarships/Prizes

  • Third Place Overall, Shristi Sharma, Maharishi School, Computer Science.
  • Second Place Overall, Meena Ramadugu, John F Kennedy High School, Biomedical and Health Sciences.
  • First Place Overall, Amara Orth, Lewis Central Senior High School, Plant Science.
     

 

About the Authors: